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Charleroi Area hires Ed Zelich as new district superintendent

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 1:06 a.m.
Rick Bruni Jr. | The Valley Independent
Ed Zelich was hired June 17, 2014, as Charleroi Area's new superintendent.

The Charleroi Area School Board on Tuesday chose a new superintendent with no ties to the district.

The board unanimously hired Ed Zelich, effective July 1. Zelich, 51, will receive a four-year contract with a starting salary of $115,000.

A Saltsburg native and California University of Pennsylvania graduate, Zelich has spent the last year and a half as assistant superintendent for the Chartiers-Houston School District.

“I have no connection (to Charleroi Area) and that's the beauty of it,” Zelich said. “I loved all my life being able to earn things. That's the way I was raised. If you want something, you go out and get it. And I'm blessed the board gave me this opportunity.”

Zelich previously served as a Laurel Highlands elementary principal and is a former athletic director, assistant principal and boys' basketball coach at Waynesburg High School.

He appeared at the meeting with his wife, Brenda, and sons Luke and Zeke.

“The thing that really excited to me is this staff is doing a tremendous job,” Zelich said, referring to the district having the highest gain in student testing proficiency last year out of 107 school districts in a seven-county region. “I think we can go from good to great, and let's grow together.”

Zelich and Bentworth High School Principal George Lammay were the finalists for the position, board members confirmed. Both were recommended by Intermediate Unit 1 and underwent a series of lengthy interviews with the board, teachers and community members.

Board President Ken Wiltz noted a distinction between Lammay, a former Charleroi Area principal, and Zelich.

“Both were very qualified, but you definitely had two different management styles,” Wiltz said.

“With George, you always know where you stand on an issue. With (Zelich), he'll listen and not try to make a judgment call right away. Not that George wouldn't listen, too, but you definitely had that contrast.”

Board Treasurer Adele Hopkins said she was one of Zelich's biggest supporters, calling the new educational leader “progressive” and “someone who wants to move the district forward.”

After the meeting, Zelich said he wants to seek input from teachers, administrators, parents and student committees in his first 90 days on the job.

“Before I can do anything, I need to listen to all the stakeholders,” Zelich said. “After I listen, I'm going to learn, then I'm going to share and we're going to build.”

Acting Superintendent Reid Smith said he will help transition Zelich into the job. Smith has been serving as interim superintendent since January, after Dr. Brad Ferko left to take the same position with the Sharpsville Area School District in Mercer County.

The board opened Ferko's position in October.

Smith said he didn't expect to stay on until June, but lauded the support staff and school board as some of the best people with whom he's ever worked.

Smith predicted Zelich will provide Charleroi Area with “someone to grow the district”.

In other action, the board unanimously appointed former member Patricia “Patsy” Brinker to fill the vacancy created by the death last month of Rosalie Carroll.

Brinker was elected to the board in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 before falling short in a bid for a third four-year term in November.

Wiltz welcomed Brinker back after she was sworn in by Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins of Charleroi, saying she has always taken her position of school director “very seriously.”

Brinker's position will be up for grabs in the next municipal election in 2016.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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