Share This Page

Leechburg Area resumes superintendent search

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 7:26 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg superintendent Terence Meehan photographed on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.

The Leechburg Area School Board is again searching for a new superintendent after the recently hired Terence Meehan backed out of the position.

Meehan's resignation last week comes just four months after he accepted the position at an annual salary of $125,000.

He was tentatively expected to begin serving the five-year contract in late January once he finalized a transition from the New Castle Area School District. Meehan has spent the past eight years there overseeing curriculum, federal programs and transportation as assistant to the superintendent.

In early January, Meehan put the transition on hold as he was called to Florida to care for his critically ill mother, who died Jan. 26.

Meehan told the Valley News Dispatch in February that he would begin serving the Leechburg Area superintendent position sometime late March or early April.

But in an email to the Valley News Dispatch late Tuesday, Meehan, 50, wrote that he would remain with New Castle indefinitely, citing the recent turmoil in his personal life as reason to stay.

“After great personal deliberation of my situation following the sudden death of my mother, I gave myself a few weeks to analyze the changes in my life and did not want to hold back the transition process at Leechburg,” he wrote. “I realized that relocating at this time was not an option and the commute was far too intense to manage on a daily basis.”

Meehan went on to explain that he planned to maintain residences in New Castle and the Alle-Kiski Valley, but is now bound to New Castle “following the passing of my mother and the needs that I have to handle family business here.”

He did not elaborate, but concluded with the following statement.

“(The tragedy that my family and I have endured) is genuine, and I must focus on the sudden changes that have been placed on me. It would not be fair for me to relocate and neglect the family responsibilities or the duties of a new position.”

Leechburg Area board members Jean Stull and Kathy Vargo declined to comment on the situation. Other members could not be reached.

Frank Prazenica, the district's interim superintendent, said the board has begun advertising for the position and could make a hire as early as late April. He said the board will review 13 applications received earlier, particularly the top four previous candidates, and accept other applications until April 7.

“The district is trying to move forward as soon as we can,” said Prazenica, who was appointed interim superintendent in July. “They'll be meeting in private in the next couple months here to narrow down their candidates and come to a consensus.”

Solicitor Robert Cinpinski said the board would not look into any potential violations of contract by Meehan's leaving.

“The board is sympathetic to (Meehan's) personal circumstances and we all wish him well,” he said. “The board is fortunate that this is a time of year in which many superintendents are potentially looking to change positions or coming available. That's good because the board not only wants to make a decision soon, but needs to at this time.”

The Leechburg Area School District is in the process of crafting its 2014-15 budget, which could raise property taxes as much as 4.2 percent in its Armstrong County communities and 3.2 percent in West Leechburg, Westmoreland County.

Business Manager Mark Lukacs said next school year's budget is among the most difficult he's had to balance in his career. That's because, he says, retirement, transportation and health care costs are ballooning, while the state withholds its “inadequate” funding figures until the 11th hour, putting the district “in between a rock and a hard place.”

The district's deadline to finalize the 2014-15 budget falls in June.

“Hopefully, we'll have a superintendent by then,” Cinpinski said.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.