Marcolini hired at Beth-Center
After just two years at the helm, the leader of the Monessen School District is moving on.
Superintendent Linda Marcolini was hired Monday night as the new Bethlehem-Center School District superintendent.
Bethlehem-Center board members held a special meeting to hire Marcolini. Her 4½-year contract includes a base salary of $110,000, which will increase to $113,000 in July 2014. After that, her salary will jump to $116,699 on July 1, 2015; $120,200 in 2016; and $123,806 in 2017.
The Washington County school district comprises the communities of Fredericktown, Beallsville, Centerville, Deemston, Richeyville, Marianna and East and West Bethlehem townships.
Marcolini, who attended the meeting, said the hiring was a “whirlwind” process.
“It all happened very quick,” Marcolini said. “It's time to move on, and work with folks who are ready for change.”
Bethlehem-Center board President Chad Novotney said Marcolini became a candidate during a second round of interviews that began in November. She will replace former Superintendent Dr. James Stockdale, who resigned March 29. He was hired in 2010.
“We were very impressed with her (Marcolini), and we're very excited to have her in our district,” Novotney said.
Marcolini was expected to submit her letter of resignation to Monessen officials and staff Tuesday morning.
When she will begin her new job will depend upon the Monessen school board.
Marcolini said, under terms of her contract, she would be forced to stay in Monessen until Feb. 17, 2014. Bethlehem-Center officials set a tentative start date of Jan. 16.
Marcolini was hired Nov. 9, 2011, replacing Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Chelen, who retired after 40 years with the district.
Prior to coming to Monessen, Marcolini was the assistant superintendent in the Brownsville Area School District.
Before that, she was a teacher for 16 years in Pittsburgh Public Schools. She worked for eight years in the Woodland Hills School District.
Marcolini's salary under the Monessen contract is $100,000 this year, with 2½ percent increases in each of the last two years of the five-year deal.
News of Marcolini's departure did not surprise Monessen board members, as rumors about her possible exit have been circulating for several weeks.
“We anticipated that she was heading in that direction,” said Director Sharon Mauck, who served as board president this year. “I'm a firm believer that if you're not happy then you should do something that will make you happy.”
Mauck acknowledged that the board's relationship with Marcolini was “not as good as it first was” when she was hired.
“But this is something that happened, and now we just have to move forward,” Mauck said. “No matter who we hire at the helm, what's most important is that we provide the best education we can to our kids.”
Newly appointed board President Donna Fantauzzi said she is hoping for a smooth transition, and expects to schedule a special meeting to discuss the status of Marcolini's contract and the search for a new leader.
“The board, both professionally and personally, wishes her well,” Fantauzzi said.
Marcolini said that while her decision to leave Monessen was “bittersweet,” she believes the time was right to move on.
“Two years ago, when I was offered the position, I understood the work to be transformative and the methodology that the board and I agreed upon to get the work accomplished would be collaborative,” Marcolini states in her three-page resignation letter. “In other words, we agreed to support our students by supporting each other as an executive team. Recently, not all, but most of the board members have lost the faith in this philosophy and my leadership. I was hired to make change, I made change, and quite honestly it was not well received by some.”
Marcolini said she will miss “everyone deeply,” and says she is proud of the work she accomplished in her short time, including implementing a teacher mentoring program, a bully prevention program, the district's cyber program, the Monessen Alternative Program, and the Monessen/Brentwood “Dignity and Respect” project.
Marcolini was thrust into the national media spotlight not long after she was hired following a Feb. 3, 2012, basketball game at Brentwood. During the game, Monessen players claimed they were subjected to racial epithets, and two Brentwood students wore banana costumes.
The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League directed the districts to formulate a plan to promote sportsmanship and prevent the use of racial slurs and intimidation.
Marcolini said she inherited a “heavy slate” when she started in Monessen, including funding decreases and budget constraints.
She said she will assist in the hiring process and training of her replacement, as well as provide a transition plan.
Marcolini said she will always believe that Monessen is one of the area's “best kept secrets,” and that she will miss the students and staff.
“There are no words to say how much I will miss the Monessen students,” she stated in her letter. “In the past two years I have gotten to know most students by their first names. This is truly my mission — kids. That being said, I wish all Monessen students the best of luck. I will miss you deeply.”
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.