Columbia school board elects 2012 leaders (copy)

Keith Combs, second from the left, is sworn in after being elected to his first four-year term in 2011.

The Columbia Borough school board president abruptly resigned Thursday in an email sent to board members and administrators about five hours before a school board meeting the same day.

Keith Combs, who’s served on the school board off-and-on since 2011, sent an email around 1 p.m. with a brief letter stating he was resigning, effective Thursday, superintendent Tom Strickler told LNP.

Combs didn’t give any reason for his decision, but Strickler told LNP he assumes it was work-related.

This isn’t the first time he’s quit on the board. Combs resigned a year after he was elected in 2011 due to a busy work schedule, LNP records show. He was then appointed to fill a vacant seat in 2016 and elected to another four-year term in 2017.

Combs was absent from Thursday’s meeting and did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

“It is with sincere regret that I write this letter to serve as my resignation from the CBSD Board of Directors,” his letter — four sentences long — stated.

He later expressed appreciation for “the opportunity to serve with you in helping to meet the needs of students in Columbia.”

Charles Leader, the board’s vice president, was selected as the new president on Thursday. Kathleen Hohenadel was appointed vice president.

Leader said had he not checked his email, he would have missed Combs’ announcement.

“It was totally unexpected,” Leader told LNP in a phone interview Friday. “It caught me off guard.”

Sandra Duncan, Kate Keiser and Lester Putt were selected by the board Thursday to temporarily fill three vacant seats.

Three seats were available after board member Barry Ford died and Jenna Geesey and Combs resigned.

“It doesn’t make for a lot of continuity when you have people popping on and off like that,” Leader said.

Strickler called Columbia’s situation “very unusual,” as seven of the nine board seats will be up for grabs in the November election.

Combs, he said, will be tough to replace.

“He’ll be greatly missed,” Strickler said. “Keith was a great board president. He always had students in mind.”

LNP correspondent Kyle Kutz contributed to this report.

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