McKeesport superintendent Gabauer leaves for new post
Colleagues of McKeesport Area Schools Superintendent Timothy Gabauer got a surprise when they checked their email Tuesday morning.
Gabauer, who has been a teacher and administrator in the district for 19 years, posted a message, time-stamped 6:41 a.m., to inform his staff that he is leaving to become superintendent at Mt. Pleasant Area, effective Nov. 1.
“First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone throughout the organization for their daily efforts and dedication to doing their very best for all of our students and families,” he wrote. “McKeesport is a special place with special people that pull together in a team better than any other I have witnessed.”
Gabauer thanked the staff for working to make a difference for the district's children.
School directors and administrators, many of whom learned of Gabauer's plans last weekend, said it was his vision that led the way.
“He's always had high expectations for the district,” Founders' Hall Middle School principal Karen Chapman said. “His main goal has always been the betterment of the district and moving us forward. This is a great loss, because he has put so many things in place to help us.”
Gabauer has been with the district his entire career, working his way up from his first teaching position in a Cornell Middle School social studies classroom. He was a high school teacher and varsity baseball coach. He served the middle school as dean of students, assistant principal, associate principal, and principal. He was vocational director, high school principal and assistant superintendent before taking over as superintendent in 2011.
“It's very surprising and disappointing that he's leaving,” school board president Patricia Maksin said. “We only wish him well and hope he is as successful in another district as he's been with us. A good friend is leaving us, and he will be missed.”
School board vice president Joe Lopretto, who chairs the personnel committee, said the district's loss is Mt. Pleasant Area's gain.
“This is a sad day for McKeesport Area School District,” he said. “Like many others, I was shocked.”
Lopretto said he expects the search for a new superintendent to begin immediately.
“This is something the board will have to decide on,” he said. “We have to get together in the personnel committee and in executive sessions (pursuant to the Sunshine Act) to determine who our next superintendent and assistant superintendent will be.”
Traditionally, the district has promoted its assistant superintendent when there has been a vacancy at the top. If that practice continues, Rula Skezas would be next in line for Gabauer's job.
Others in the district who are certified for the position are director of federal programs Michael Matta, curriculum coordinator Harry Bauman, director of technology Jane Coughenour, high school principal Mark Holtzman, director of career and technical education Tamara Sanders-Woods, and Chapman.
School director Chris Halaszynski, who sits on the personnel committee, said regardless of whether a current staffer ends up being the right choice, he would like to see the position advertised publicly.
“You never know who could come in here with new ideas or a different outlook,” Halaszynski said. “We have phenomenal people on our staff, but we need to open up such an important position to see who is out there.”
Gabauer did not speculate on who his successor will be, but said he wants to see “a transition that fits for McKeesport.” He offered guidance and assistance in any form to whomever gets the job.
Gabauer believes the district needs new leadership as it enters a new era with state-of-the-art elementary schools — new construction at Twin Rivers and remodeling at Francis McClure — and evolving standards in secondary education.
“It may be time for someone to set a course for the future of McKeesport Area School District,” he said. “The district continues through one of its most transformational periods in its history, lending it to a most appropriate time for new leadership to shape the brightest future for all McKeesport Area children.”
Gabauer said he will be forever indebted to the school directors, community leaders, service organizations and parents who have helped to strengthen the district's foundation for “enduring and measurable success.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.