Dennis Riker has been chosen as Nazareth Area School District's new superintendent of schools, replacing Dr. Victor Lesky, who announced his impending retirement in September.
Lesky's contract expires on July 4, 2012, so Riker would assume the position after that.
Riker, 48, is currently the district's assistant superintendent for human resources and support services, a position to which he was appointed in 2008. This will be Riker's third time leading a Lehigh Valley-area school district. He previously served as superintendent of the Catasauqua Area and Easton Area districts, as well as human resources director of Colonial Intermediate Unit 20.
The Nazareth Area School Board voted unanimously to hire Riker at Monday's board meeting. The board interviewed two candidates to replace Lesky -- Riker and one other internal candidate, said Linda McDonald, chair of the board's personnel committee.
Details of Riker's contract are still being finalized, thus no salary figures were available Monday night, according to board president Lorin Bradley.
Board members and Lesky praised Riker as the right choice to maintain continuity in running the district.
“I could not be leaving the district in better hands,” Lesky said.
The personnel committee looked to internal candidates first, McDonald said.
“Our first goal was to decide where we wanted to go... and who we wanted to guide us in that process,” she said.
Board member Darrell Crook said he was “pleased as punch” at Riker’s selection.
Riker, in remarks to the board, noted his long association with Lesky that started 28 years ago when Riker was a student teacher and Lesky a principal in the district.
Riker recalled Lesky’s advice to him the first time he had to deal with an unexpected situation as an educator: “Just deal with it.”
Riker told board members he is “very excited about moving forward” and working with them.
“We do have a lot of challenges,” he added.
The selection of Riker to replace Lesky was unanimous, but board member and Treasurer Thomas Maher voted against a supplemental motion to have Bradley “execute” a contract with Riker. Maher stated his objection was purely technical in nature and did not reflect a lack of support for the new superintendent.
One note of potential discord over Riker’s selection was sounded on Monday.
School board director-elect Chris Miller, who will assume his seat on the board next month, addressed the board during public comment after McDonald moved to appoint Riker.
Miller -- who has criticized board policy several times in recent months -- asked board members how many candidates were interviewed for the superintendent’s position. When McDonald and others replied “two,” Miller said “Thank you” and abruptly returned to his seat in the audience.
As of the next board meeting, on Dec. 5, Miller will be seated at the front of the room, with the rest of the board.