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Ghilani on board as West Jefferson Hills superintendent

| Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, 9:18 p.m.
Michael Ghilani was named superintendent of the West Jefferson Hills School District in Jan. 31, 2017. He most recently served as the Montour School District superintendent.
Michael Ghilani was named superintendent of the West Jefferson Hills School District in Jan. 31, 2017. He most recently served as the Montour School District superintendent.

West Jefferson Hills School Board approved Michael Ghilani as the district's new superintendent during a special meeting Tuesday night.

Ghilani, 44, of South Fayette, has served as the superintendent of the Montour School District for the past two years. A clause in his Montour contract will have Ghilani assisting with the superintendent transition for up to 60 days.

West Jefferson Hills board approved a contract that will run until June 30, 2021, at an annual salary of $177,500.

“The board interviewed many candidates, many of whom certainly could have done the job, but none emerged as the ideal leader until we met Dr. Ghilani,” board President Brian Fernandes said. Ghilani also has ties to the district.

His mother, Dorothy Ghilani, taught mathematics at Thomas Jefferson High School for more than 30 years. As a boy, Ghilani attended preschool in West Jefferson Hills. He grew up in Finleyville and attended a number of Thomas Jefferson basketball and football games as a youth. He attended Ringgold High School.

“I am elated to be here and really can't wait to join the district,” Ghilani said. “The biggest selling point was when I saw the level of commitment by the board and the seriousness they had in their eyes about becoming the best district in Pennsylvania.”

Ghilani has been instrumental in the construction of a new elementary school in Robinson that is expected to open for the 2017-18 school year. The building will enroll about 1,100 students in kindergarten through the fourth grade.

“I'll do whatever I can to see that the project is successful,” said Ghilani, who will now oversee the construction of the new Thomas Jefferson High School.

“That will be his project,” Fernandes said. “He will take control and work with (director of facilities) Ryan Snodgrass.”

Ghilani received a bachelor's degree from Washington & Jefferson College in psychology and education, a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in school counseling and a doctorate from Duquesne University in counseling and supervision. He earned his principal certification from Carnegie Mellon University and a letter of eligibility from Gannon University.

He started his career as a high school counselor and the director of alternative education in the Plum Borough School District. He spent the next 14 years as an administrator in the Upper St. Clair School District, earning the Secondary Principal of the Year in 2013 from the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals. He then was hired as the Montour superintendent.

Ghilani and his wife Lauren have three daughters.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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