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New Kensington-Arnold principals given new duties to reflect realignment

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Friday, July 25, 2014, 1:31 a.m.

The New Kensington-Arnold School Board realigned the district's principals on Thursday, one week after realigning its schools.

In light of the consolidation that closed two elementary schools and will condense all students into four buildings when classes resume on Aug. 27, the board created new principal positions that largely keep administrators in the grades they oversaw last school year.

The biggest change will be Valley High School Principal Jon Banko's assuming the duties of assistant to the superintendent, a one-year appointment.

Superintendent John Pallone said the district's administrative staff is stretched thin, especially after former human resources coordinator Renee King resigned in December 2012 and was not replaced.

He said Banko's appointment will allow oversight of several tasks — updating the teacher evaluation process, federal Title I programming, curriculum revisions — to be centralized rather than parceled out to other administrators.

“He will wear a lot of hats,” Pallone said.

Banko will remain acting principal of the new Valley Junior-Senior High School until a replacement is hired. Pallone said the intent is to fill the position within a few months.

Once a new principal is in place, the district will have one more administrator than it had last school year. Tom Rocchi previously filled in as Pallone's assistant, but he was a full-time elementary principal at the same time.

The high school's assistant principal, Jeff Thimons, and Valley Middle School Assistant Principal Todd Kutchak will remain assistant principals in the new junior-senior high school.

Pallone said the division of labor has not yet been formalized, but Thimons likely will be responsible for grades 10 through 12 and Kutchak for 7 through 9.

Valley Middle School Principal Pat Nee will remain at that building as principal of the Roy A. Hunt Elementary School, which will include grades 3 through 6.

Rocchi will remain principal at H.D. Berkey Elementary School, which now houses first- and second-graders.

Donna Holtzman will be principal of the preschoolers and kindergartners at Martin Elementary School. Rocchi and Holtzman previously oversaw two each of the district's four elementary schools.

Pallone said there were no salary changes with the realignment.

Other staffing changes

The board also hired several teachers: Leslie Ward in kindergarten; Alissa Cochenour and Angelica Guzzo in first grade; and Anthony Arcuri and Jacqueline Ionadi in third grade. All of the employees previously worked in the district, several as long-term substitute teachers.

Their placement on the salary steps has not yet been determined.

A final change was the appointment of new varsity football coach William “Muzzy” Colosimo as full-time athletic director at a salary of $35,000 for one year.

Pallone said former part-time Athletic Director Mark Kaczanowicz will return as full-time health and physical education teacher; he had been teaching part time.

District officials said several teaching positions still need to be filled, including in learning support and music. Pallone said they also hope to provide building assignments to clerical staff, teaching aides, custodians and other support personnel by the end of next week.

Officials thanked staff for their efforts throughout the consolidation process.

“The last several months and most recent several days have been very busy,” Pallone said. “I want to express our appreciation to the staff across the board.”

Pallone and board Vice President Pat Petit said much of the furniture already has been moved and Weleski Transfer Inc. will be in the district starting Wednesday to assist.

They said other summer work, including the installation of a new boiler and roof repairs in the junior-senior high, floor waxing and replacing light fixtures, is under way.

“I want to sincerely thank every employee for your patience through this process,” Petit said. “This is a new direction. A new dawn, a new day in the New Kensington-Arnold School District.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at

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