The York Suburban school board welcomes the new in the same way it celebrates the old.

The board members donned party hats last night to welcome Michele Merkle as the district's superintendent, as they did to bid farewell to its recently retired superintendent Kathryn "Kate" Orban.

Merkle has been serving as the acting superintendent for the district since November, when Orban retired.

Board president Roger Miller said the past 90 days allowed the board to see Merkle in action. The board approved Merkle's contract, which includes a salary of $157,500, according to board documents.

The board has also seen Merkle perform in other roles in the district, as she has been a member of the York Suburban staff for almost 24 years. Among those positions, Merkle has been the assistant superintendent for administration, a guidance counselor, the director of the guidance department, assistant principal and the high school principal.

At the meeting, Merkle thanked the board for having confidence in her.

Merkle has a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Immaculata University and her bachelor's and master's degrees from Shippensburg University.

Merkle, her husband, Joseph, and their three children are all residents of York Suburban.

— Shannon Prusak contributed to this report. Reach Nikelle Snader at