By Steven Hoffman
Avon Grove superintendent Dr. Gus Massaro and business manager James Asciutto attended their last school board meeting in those positions on Oct. 24.
Massaro announced in January that he would be leaving the district when his contract expires on Oct. 31 after negations for a three-year contract extension did not produce an agreement. Most of Massaro’s 35-year career in education has been spent in Avon Grove. He became superintendent in 2002.
“I’ve been saying goodbye for six months,” Massaro joked toward the conclusion of the meeting. He explained how much he appreciated serving the school district. “After 27 years, you get to meet a lot of wonderful people. As I reflect on my 27 years in Avon Grove, there is one thing that stands out for me that I will always treasure and that is all the wonderful people that I have met through this amazing journey. I am thankful to have lived and worked in our community and for getting to know people in and out of school life.”
Massaro got his start in Avon Grove as a teacher and moved up to assistant principal at the Fred S. Engle Middle School, a position that he held from 1985 to 1989. He left to the district in 1989 to become a principal in the Sarasota school system in Florida. He came back to be the principal of the Fred S. Engle Middle School in 1991. He moved into the district’s central office in 1997 when he was selected to be the district’s assistant superintendent. He served as interim superintendent twice before agreeing to helm the district on a permanent basis eleven years ago.
During Massaro’s tenure, the district made gains in student achievement while also being one of the most economically efficient school districts in the state. Avon Grove was recognized time and again for its low per-pupil spending and high academic achievement. Massaro noted when he announced his retirement that the district raised taxes just a little over ten percent over nine years. That was the result, he said, of a team effort that involved many people over the years.
Board president Bonnie Wolff thanked Massaro for his efforts.
“We really appreciate all that you’ve done. We thank you for your professionalism and your offers of help during this period of transition,” she said.
Massaro said that Avon Grove is still very important to him, and he did not rule out serving the district in another capacity in the future.
“My wife and I do plan to stay in the community,” he said. “It is my hope to continue to volunteer in the community, with the goal of trying to make this even a better community.”
He added that many people have asked him if he might run for school board at some point.
“My answer is that I do believe in community service and we’ll leave it at that.”
After a seven-month search, the school board appointed Dr. M. Christopher Marchese as the new superintendent of schools on Aug. 22. He will take officially take the helm on Nov. 1.
Asciutto was the business manager for most of Massaro’s tenure, serving for nine and a half years I the position.
Wolff thanked Asciutto and said that he did a great job for the district.
The school board is still looking for Asciutto’s replacement. The board did approve a motion to appoint Roger W. Brubaker as interim business manager, effective Nov. 1, 2013 through Jan. 17, 2014. Brubaker will be paid $675 per full day worked and will not receive benefits.
During public comment, Leslie Wallace, a resident, expressed her gratitude for the work of Massaro and Asciutto.
“It is a tough job. We appreciate your service. We wish you the best,” Wallace said.