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Retiring superintendent 'went the extra mile' for Moon Area

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:08 p.m.
Donna Milanovich, newsmaker for Dec. 27

Donna Milanovich spent six years as superintendent of Moon Area School District, where she began her 38-year teaching career and spent much of those six years shepherding two building projects.

But even though she has four years left on her five-year contract, she decided to retire effective June 28 to relax, travel, read, volunteer, teach and spend more time with her husband, Bob, and two grown sons.

“It's been a very ambitious six years,” she said. “Jobs as superintendent are very difficult and very stressful. People once served 20 to 25 years. I don't think that's possible anymore. … I caution people not to enter into this position until late in their careers.

“Things were different before No Child Left Behind and those kinds of accountability. ... The landscape has changed.”

The literal landscape of the district also changed during the tenure of Milanovich, 59, of Center, Beaver County, who oversaw the building of a $76 million Moon Area High School and a $45 million renovation of the old high school to convert it to a middle school.

The high school project languished for 10 years as boards changed. Then, during Milanovich's tenure, the board voted to start construction on the high school, which opened in January 2011 on University Boulevard. When the high school students left their old building on Beaver Grade Road, its transformation began.

Milanovich had to step in when the general contractor defaulted on the contract.

“I learned so much about the construction process,” she said. And though some parents had expressed concerns about adding fifth-graders to the middle school, “we had the smoothest transition” last fall, she said.

Under her direction, Moon opened a cyberschool a year ago.

“I have nothing but praise for her,” said school board member Jeffrey Bussard. “She went the extra mile on the facilities, doing things a superintendent shouldn't have to.”

Milanovich pointed to other accomplishments, including the implementation of all-day kindergarten last fall.

“Moon was one of the last school districts to offer public kindergarten,” she said. “I'm really glad we didn't hold out on all-day kindergarten until the very end.”

She also cited:

• Starting partnerships with nearby Robert Morris University, which provides the district with student teachers and may work with the district in theatrical productions;

• Introducing more informational technology programs;

• Strengthening the music programs, including after-school professional instructors for voice and instrumental lessons and an Advance Placement music theory class in the high school.

“She's accomplished an awful lot,” said board member Laura Schisler. “She's been a great educational leader.”

The board will search to replace Milanovich but Schisler gave no date by which it hopes to hire someone.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

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