By Steven Hoffman
Avon Grove School District officials were expected to meet this week to begin the process of screening candidates who have applied for the superintendent position. Once all the applications have been reviewed, the school board will decide which applicants will participate in the first round of interviews.
The superintendent search is being facilitated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit as the district looks to find its next school leader. Current superintendent Dr. Gus Massaro announced on Jan. 24 that he plans to retire when his contract expires on Oct. 31.
Dr. Joseph O'Brien, the executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit, said that 28 applications had been received prior to the Memorial Day holiday. Most of the applicants are from this region, O' Brien said, and nearly half the candidates are either current superintendents or have previously held the position.
“It's a good pool of candidates,” O'Brien said, adding that in some cases the most difficult part of the selection process comes early on when the school board is determining who will be interviewed for the position.
School board president Bonnie Wolff said that a series of community forums that recently took place will prove beneficial to the board as it conducts the search.
“I believe that they went very well,” Wolff said of the community forums, which gave all stakeholders in the district—residents, staff, parents, and students—a chance to express their concerns and hopes for the future.
Massaro, who has spent most of his 35-year career in Avon Grove, spoke proudly about the events of the last week, which included a district-wide art show and several school concerts, not to mention the varsity boys’ lacrosse district championship.
Massaro also updated the board about the efforts to ensure safety at all the schools. Two plainclothes police officers recently visited the secondary schools to conduct vulnerability and risk assessments.
“They got some good information,” Massaro said. “They will provide us with a report in a couple of weeks.”
In other business:
The Avon Grove School Board once again rejected a resolution that would have encouraged Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pa. General Assembly to approve Right to Work legislation. Some states have approved Right to Work legislation to limit the extent that established unions can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.
Board member William Sites pointed out that the school board heard from some teachers in the district who opposed the Fair Share clause that was included in the most recent teachers' contract.
“Pennsylvania needs to move in the direction of becoming a Right to Work state,” Sites said, adding that the resolution in front of the board had been revised from the two previous times when the board had considered—and rejected—the resolution.
“I would hope that now it is in a form that would be acceptable to this board,” said Sites.
But when the vote was taken, only three members—Sites, Bruce Dobsch, and Donald Needham—supported it, so the resolution failed, 4-3.
The spending cuts that were put in place as a result of sequestration have impacted funding for the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), which provides an array of educational services to the county's twelve school districts.
In her report about the CCIU, Wolff said that the organization has been reducing administrative staff and finding other ways to reduce expenses so that educational programs aren't impacted.
“The IU has been able to keep the cuts away from the kids so far,” said Wolff.
Finally, the Avon Grove High School graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 11 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.