West Jefferson Hills appoints new superintendent

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After four acting and substitute superintendents since 2009, the West Jefferson Hills School District finally has a superintendent.

Michael A. Panza was unanimously appointed to the post at Monday night's school board meeting, which was reconvened from the board's April 23 regular meeting.

He will be paid an annual salary of $150,000. His contract runs from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2018.

Mr. Panza, 55, has been superintendent of the Sto-Rox School District since 2011, and has three years remaining on his contract.

He plans to formally submit his resigation on Tuesday.

He also served as superintendent of the Moniteau School District in West Sunbury, Butler County, from 1999-2005, and of the Carlynton School District from 2005-11.

In his prepared statement, board president Anthony Angotti said Mr. Panza was chosen for being a strong educational leader of high morals and ethics; having 14 years of superintendent experience; being a visionary; and for putting children first in words and deeds.

Mr. Panza will be the first superintendent since Terry Kinavey was fired by the board in September 2010. She was accused of improperly intervening in the hiring of a teacher, and not being forthcoming about her actions.

For the past few years, district solicitor Ira Weiss advised the board that there was an element of risk in appointing a permanent superintendent until the lawsuits filed by Mrs. Kinavey were resolved.

Although the lawsuits are not all settled, her five-year contract expires in June 2013, thereby ending the risk, he said last night.

The nine-month superintendent search conducted by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit yielded 20 applications, of which seven candidates were interviewed.

Mr. Panza, who grew up in Aspinwall, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in music education, and a master's degree in educational administration from Duquesne University.

He received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his Letter of Eligibility from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence County.

Dr. Panza and his wife, Deanna, reside in Cherry Township, Butler County.

Until his July 1 start, Dr. Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, will continue as acting superintendent, and Hamsini Rajgopal, the district's director of human resources, will continue as acting assistant superintendent.

education - neigh_south

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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