New Castle News

Schools

June 22, 2014

Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

NEW CASTLE — Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine.

Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

As its superintendent for 10 of those years, he has led the district to excel in education, sports and music.

His career will draw to a close July 16 as he bows to a younger generation.

Aloi announced his retirement last week amid budget concerns, a tax increase and a school board decision to eliminate an administrator’s position.

He is leaving a legacy of years of cooperation and respect from his fellow administrators, school board members, teachers, coaches and students.

His decision sprung from budget struggles and a potential deficit of more than $5 million.

When school board discussions leaned toward eliminating an administrator’s job, Aloi offered to step down, recommending that Joseph Mancini take his position and that Mancini’s post of assistant to the superintendent be abolished, saving about $150,000.

As a result, Mancini was named interim superintendent.

“All of our administrators are so good, and they’re young and are raising families,” Aloi reasoned. “It wouldn’t have been morally right for me to stay and let a younger administrator lose his job.

“Fifty years is a long time to serve and this is the best time for me to retire.”

“I was fortunate to be surrounded by good people here,” Aloi said. “The teachers, support staff, administrators, business manager and solicitor are all good people who did a lot more than I could ever do for this district. I’m leaving here with very positive feelings.”

Aloi spent his entire career at Ellwood City, beginning in 1964 as a seventh-grade history teacher and assistant basketball coach alongside the legendary then-head coach L. Butler Hennon.

At the time, he chose Ellwood City over a junior high coaching position in New Castle under now-retired coach Connie Palumbo.

Aloi became Lincoln High’s head basketball coach in 1971. The district was in Section 3, he said, and “that first year (the 1971-72 season) we came in tied for second and I was named coach of the year. We beat Farrell one game and they went on to state that year. That was the highlight of my career.”

Aloi also was guidance counselor, junior high principal, assistant and high school principal and assistant to the superintendent.

He and his wife, Mary, were married in 1965. Then came three children, followed by seven grandchildren.

The Alois live in Ewing Park, near the high school football field, because he enjoys living close to school sporting events.

Born and raised in Midland, Beaver County, Aloi earned his bachelor’s degree from Geneva College and his superintendent’s letter and guidance and principal’s certifications from Westminster College.

When he started at Ellwood City, the district had nine elementary schools. Six have since been eliminated because of declining enrollment and reconfiguration. The district’s current enrollment is 865, plus 90 students who attend the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center.

Changes in education throughout the years have posed a challenge, Aloi said, noting mandates in the No Child Left Behind act have not always come with funding, “and it’s been tough. You always have to look at staffing to keep spending down.”

Aloi said he feels blessed to have worked with superintendents countywide.

“The Lawrence County schools are very fortunate to have good superintendents,” he said. “I’m going to miss working with every one of them.”

George Gabriel, retired New Castle superintendent who has known Aloi for 15 years, said the feeling is mutual.

Gabriel said he considers Aloi “a true gentleman.”

“It was always a pleasure for me to sit next to him at the intermediate unit and county superintendents meetings,” Gabriel said.

“He has a passion for his job. Whenever he would hear that his students were succeeding, it would always bring a big smile to his face.”

Aloi said that overall, he has mixed emotions about retiring.

“You know it’s going to come one day,” he said. “The people here made my job enjoyable. I never looked at it as my job.”

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