Nineteen teachers and three administrators are set to retire from the West Allegheny School District.
The school board on March 19 approved the retirement of nine teachers this year and 10 teachers next year, plus two administrators who hold doctorates — Kathleen Sites, the Wilson Elementary principal, and William Englert Jr., the assistant to the superintendent for Personnel and Student Support Services/Technology.
Superintendent John DiSanti previously announced he will retire July 1.
The staff members took advantage of a retirement incentive program the district offered under its contract with the teachers’ union.
“We lost a lot of talent and experience,” school board President Debbie Mirich said.
Ms. Sites will depart July 31, just as her K-5 school is undergoing a major renovation project.
There is unlikely to be any internal candidate for the superintendent post with the retirement of Mr. Englert, who holds a superintendent’s letter of eligibility.
“He would have been a terrific superintendent for West Allegheny, and I’m very disappointed that he didn't throw his hat in the ring,” Mr. DiSanti said. “But I also respect where he is in his life.”
Superintendent candidates must apply by April 11. Online application materials may be found on the “Employment” page at www.westasd.org.
The new superintendent of the 3,300-pupil district will face teacher contract negotiations in January and will supervise a $29 million renovation project at Wilson Elementary in Findlay and McKee Elementary in North Fayette.
The district offered incentives for teacher retirements for the end of the 2013-14 and the 2014-15 school years.
Eligible full-time staff had to be at least 55 years old with 25 years in the Public School Employees Retirement System, or 60 years old with 20 years of service.
They could opt for either continuing medical insurance benefits or $1,000 monthly payments, until they become eligible for Medicare.
Retiring art teacher Debbie Turici, president of the 250-member West Allegheny Education Association, thanked the district for offering the incentives to the teachers’ union.
She said the 19 departing teachers have a total of 535 years of public school service.
"This [time] comes with great mixed emotions, and it's bittersweet,” Ms. Turici said. “But it’s a good thing too because it’s a renaissance. It’s a new beginning for everybody.”
Mr. DiSanti acknowledged the hard work and commitment of the teachers and the union leaders.
"We are going to do everything we can to fill those positions with people that care about kids as much as those that are moving on,” he said.
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.