North Allegheny school directors said goodbye to longtime administrator Brian Miller and hello to his replacement -- Robert J. Scherrer -- who will become assistant superintendent of K-12 education, effective Aug. 1.
Mr. Scherrer has been principal of the Pittsburgh Science Technology Academy and was principal of Allderdice High School, both in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Board members last Wednesday approved a five-year contract at an annual salary of $145,000.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be here," Mr. Scherrer said.
He was aware, he said, of the district's reputation, but learned more positive things when he started looking into applying for the position.
"You start to dig deeper and see the things that are happening here. It just felt like the right fit," he said.
Mr. Scherrer received bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his doctorate in education from the University of Pittsburgh. He previously held administrative positions in the Woodland Hills, Peters Township and Baldwin-Whitehall school districts.
Mr. Miller has left to become superintendent of the Pine-Richland School District. He had been a teacher and administrator for 17 years in North Allegheny.
"Many of us thought that he would spend his entire career at North Allegheny and some of us are really unhappy that that is not going to be the case," said board President Maureen Grosheider.
"Our loss of Dr. Miller is Pine-Richland's gain. He is, and always has been, the consummate professional at North Allegheny."
The school board also appointed Daniel O'Rourke as assistant principal of Carson Middle School in McCandless at an annual salary of $100,000. He will begin work at North Allegheny July 22.
He replaces Rachel Fischbaugh, who left to be principal of Hartwood Elementary School in the Fox Chapel Area School District.
Mr. O'Rourke is a social studies teacher and professional learning community facilitator in the Upper St. Clair School District.
"It is an honor and privilege to be here," he said, adding that he is both leaving and coming to communities that value education. "I can't wait to get to meet everybody on a more personal and professional level."
Mr. O'Rourke received a bachelor's degree from Ohio University and master's degree and principal certification from the University of Pittsburgh.
In other action, the board approved adding an assistant elementary principal. The two largest schools, McKnight and Marshall, now share an assistant principal.
The board also heard the first reading of a policy that would ban school directors from holding volunteer positions that are supervised by a district staff member.
At the moment, that applies only to Ralph Pagone, who volunteers as the head coach of the girls' slow pitch softball team -- a program he brought to the district.
"I think it's a shame," Mr. Pagone said. "It doesn't look like anything but politics."
Mrs. Grosheider said she directed the solicitor to draft the policy after receiving "a significant amount of criticism regarding this issue."
This is not the first time the issue has come up. In 2011, board members debated whether they should allow Mr. Pagone to serve in both roles before eventually voting to reappoint him as softball coach.
At that time, the board considered drafting a policy, but it was never done. Mr. Pagone was reappointed unanimously last year.
"For the last several years that you have held that position, I have voted in favor of you holding that position," Mrs. Grosheider said. "However, there is a perceived conflict of interest. There are members of the community who have expressed grave concerns about this. There have been members of this board who have expressed grave concerns about this."
Board member Karen Boujoukos said she believed that it was "inappropriate" to ask athletic director Bob Bozzuto to supervise a board member who is, essentially, his boss.
"I don't think Mr. Bozzuto would risk his job for me if I make a mistake as a coach," Mr. Pagone said. "He is going to do what is right for the student, the school, the program, not the coach."
Under board rules, policies are introduced one month, and voted on the following month. But, since slow-pitch softball is a fall sport, and those coaches are appointed in July, board member Libby Blackburn wanted to waive that rule and vote on the policy during the June 26 meeting. Her motion failed with only three votes.
The policy will be voted on during the July 17 meeting. There was discussion of "grandfathering" Mr. Pagone into the policy, and making it effective for future board members.
"This program exists because of my efforts," Mr. Pagone said. "There are a lot of perceptions out there. The reality is nothing wrong has happened. Nothing wrong has ever happened. ... Three championships in seven years is pretty successful."
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: email@example.com.