New Castle News

June 26, 2013

Sarandrea named New Castle superintendent

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE —

John Sarandrea is returning to New Castle schools, but the vote to hire him as superintendent did not come unanimously.

The school board at a special meeting Tuesaday night voted 7 to 2 in favor of hiring back Sarandrea, who formerly had been a principal and basketball coach and teacher at New Castle.

A crowd of his friends and family members were in the meeting room to hear the vote, which drew loud applause. His supporters included his two sons, their grandfather, Charles Joseph, and most of the district’s administrators.

Board president David DiGiammarino and member Dr. Marilyn Berkeley cast the two no votes against his hiring.

DiGiammarino left shortly after the meeting adjourned and attempts to reach him by phone later were unsuccessful. He gave no reason publicly for his vote.

Member Mary Ann Tofel, who was out of town, cast her yes vote by phone.

Berkeley said after the meeting that she voted against Sarandrea’s hiring because “this is not the direction that I intended to proceed. This board is so fragmented that I was hoping for a person unknown to us all with a fresh perspective, who would come in here  and attempt to move New Castle forward by doing the right thing for the students, teachers and taxpayers.”

“If Mr. Sarandrea is that person, he will have my full support,” she said, adding that “with all the negative press lately, it can only get better.”

Sarandrea left a 4 1/2 year contract and $117,000 pay in the Sharon City School District to accept a five-year contract at New Castle, where his new salary will be $130,000 this year, plus benefits.

Sarandrea said Sharon school directors have released him from his contract there, and he will assume his duties at New Castle on Monday.

Stanley Magusiak, who has been acting superintendent since October when George Gabriel resigned from the position, said he will be done in that position on Friday.

Sarandrea, 55, a resident of Sharon,  had been superintendent in Sharon since 2007. Before that he was the New Castle’s  high school principal for eight years, and was assistant principal of the high school and Ben Franklin Junior High School for two years before that.

He taught English and was the varsity basketball coach from 1992 through 1997 at New Castle.

Sarandra experience also includes recruiting coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh, teaching and coaching in the Bronx in New York City and being a New York City firefighter for eight years in the 1980s.

He said that he eventually plans to move back to New Castle.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette granted him the Distinguished Father Award in 2004.

“For 21 years when I would walk into this room it would always make my hair stand on m arms,” he commented to the board. “To be back here tonight is kind of surreal to me. I can promise you I will give you my best effort every day, every week. It’s great to be back home. This is my home.”