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July 25, 2013

New Castle re-creates junior high principal post

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school board has re-established the position of a seventh- and eighth-grade principal.

The 6-1 vote came at the board’s meeting earlier this month, with Mark Kirkwood voting no.

Barb Razzano and David DiGiammarino, board president, were absent from the July 10 meeting.

Kirkwood said Wednesday he had voted against the new position for a couple of reasons.

One is that he thought the district had combined the junior and senior highs several years ago to get additional revenues and he was concerned that by dividing the grades again, the district would lose that income. He said he has since been told that is not the case.

The other reason he voted against the move was because of rumors about who would be named to the junior high position. He declined further comment, pending Monday’s special meeting.

“We’ll know Monday,” he said, of who will be named.

Superintendent John Sarandrea said the pay for the position is to be addressed at the board’s special meeting, set for 6 p.m. Monday.

In an email this week, DiGiammarino said the superintendent has not yet recommended any individuals for the position.

Sarandrea had told the board that all vacancies occurring for professional positions will be made known to all employees of the district who hold the appropriate certification.

He said he will send them letters saying the position has been created.

“They can inform the administration if they are interested,” Sarandrea said, adding that “once (the position) is created, the superintendent is able to align staff legally without interviewing.”

Also at the meeting, the board authorized the superintendent to petition the Pennsylvania Department of Education to separate grades seven and eight and from nine through 12 at the junior-senior high school.

Sarandrea explained the split is for adequate yearly progress reporting purposes, and so the district can concentrate on its Keystone exams and meeting AYP.

According to the department of education’s website, the Keystone Exams are end-of-course testing designed to assess students’ proficiency in the subjects of algebra, geometry, literature, English composition, biology, chemistry, U.S. and world history, civics and government.

The Keystone Exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s new system of high school graduation requirements and are to help school districts guide students toward meeting state standards.

According to Sarandrea, one principal will concentrate on the needs of the seventh and eighth grades for the testing and one will concentrate on what the students in grades nine through 12 need to address.

“This is going to be an important step.”

Some eighth-graders already have begun taking the required courses, and eventually, all eighth-graders will have to take algebra 1, and ninth-graders will have to take biology.

“Some don’t take it now until 10th grade.”

All the core subjects are getting introduced a year earlier, Sarandrea said.

New Castle was one of two school districts in the county, along with Ellwood City, that did not make AYP for the 2012-13 school year.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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