Finance - May 17, 2013

Corbett nominates new PA Secretary of Education, Tomalis to stay on in new position

After word circulated earlier this week that current Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis was looking for a new job and didn’t intend to stay past summer, the news is official.  On Wednesday, Governor Corbett not only announced that Tomalis will be taking on a new role in the administration but he also nominated Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent, William Harner, for secretary.  Tomalis will now serve as a special advisor to the governor on higher education.  He will leave his post as secretary on May 31 and begin his new position immediately.  Tomalis will be tasked with implementing and reviewing recommendations made by the Governor’s Postsecondary Advisory Commission and he will report to Corbett.  His salary will remain the same. 

Harner, Corbett’s pick to succeed Tomalis, has been the superintendent of Cumberland Valley Schools in Cumberland County since 2008.  The district is comprised of 8,000 students at seven elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.  He also has previous experience in the education field in Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana.  Prior to entering education, Harner served in the military for 20 years and attended West Point.  The Pennsylvania School Boards Association supports the nomination while the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state teachers union, did not comment.

In other Secretary news…

Michael Wolf was confirmed as the Secretary of Health this week after having served as Acting Secretary since October 2012.  Wolf had previously served as public affairs and policy director at Pfizer and will now continue to oversee the 1,700 DOH employees.

Wolf assumed the role after the departure of Dr. Eli Avila.  Avila served for less than two years as Secretary of Health in Pennsylvania and was the subject of media scrutiny after he had a spat with a local Harrisburg restaurant owner over the quality of an egg sandwich, ordered windbreakers for DOH staff, and was the reportedly noted to have made a fuss over a bloodmobile in encroaching on his parking space.