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Zetty welcomes ideas, vows to keep parents informed

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
New Gateway School District superintendent Nina Zetty.

When Superintendent Nina Zetty leaves Peters Township School District to begin her tenure at Gateway, she plans to keep an open mind in an effort to improve the district's academic standing.

Zetty says fresh ideas are welcome from anyone — administrators, teachers, cafeteria workers and janitors — and she says she plans to keep parents informed of major changes as they're discussed by school officials, Zetty said.

“I try to be proactive and involve parents in the decision making from the onset,” she said.

“When they have ownership in the decision making, the results tend to be much better … maybe (parents) have better ideas than we do.”

But she also owns her role as an academic expert and a proven leader.

“I'm not concerned about parent opposition to anything that I do,” she said. “You don't always end up loving each other at the end.”

She said the best part of being a superintendent is seeing first-hand the impact of good decisions, while the worst part is seeing the negative impact of some decisions.

But according to former colleagues and those who interviewed Zetty for the job, the majority of her decisions as a superintendent have been good ones.

Prior to being hired as assistant superintendent and then superintendent at Peters Township, Zetty was principal at Bentworth High School in Washington County, principal at Keystone Oaks High School in Allegheny County and a math and computer science teacher at Jefferson Morgan School District in Greene County.

Under her leadership, Peters Township was ranked 11th academically in the state this year by the Pittsburgh Business Times and has met state standards for at least the last two years. Gateway is ranked 123 in the state and failed to meet state standards as a district this year. The high school failed to meet standards the last two years.

Zetty said the academic disparity is one of the reasons she applied for the position at Gateway.

“Right now, (Peters Township) is at the top of their game academically and moving forward,” she said.

“Every educator has to feel like he or she is making a difference.”

There also is an economic disparity.

While 37.5 percent of Gateway students received free or reduced lunches in the 2011-12 school year, only 3.6 percent of Peters Township students were enrolled in the same program, according to the state department of education.

“Finances make a difference,” Zetty said. “You can't really go to your taxpayers (in Gateway) like you can in Peters.”

In addition to the new pay-to-play policy at Gateway, Zetty said she'll discuss fundraising opportunities with parent booster groups and will look toward the local business district for contributions.

“I'll look at how we do things,” she said. “A lot of times a set of fresh eyes can see new things.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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