Job openings stacking up in West Jefferson Hills district
The departure of multiple high-ranking, longtime employees and the reinstatement of an administrative position create an opportunity for West Jefferson Hills leaders to take a new approach, the school district's recently hired superintendent said.
Michael Panza, who started in the district's top role the final week in June, said he has been busy during the last several weeks interviewing candidates for the numerous job openings in the district.
“While it's a loss to the district and you want to thank them for their service, it provides opportunities for the district to look at things in a different way and to say, ‘Maybe there's a different way that we should be doing things,'” Panza said.
He is taking his time trying to find someone for each opening, and for some of the positions, plans remain unknown and hire dates have yet to be determined.
“We don't need to do anything real quick. We need to take our time,” Panza said. “Let's decide: What does the district need? Then fill that need. It's a very nice opportunity.”
Openings in the district include a reinstated director of curriculum/instruction/assessment job, the director of human resources position, held for seven years by Hamsini Rajgopal, who also served as acting superintendent and acting assistant to the superintendent in the last two years; and a public-relations post. Numerous teaching and secretarial jobs also are open.
Rajgopal resigned from her position about two weeks ago, Panza said. The board will vote to accept her resignation on Tuesday.
Rajgopal, 47, said she left to pursue new opportunities.
“I'm grateful and appreciative of my dear staff, students and the community for their support of my varied leadership roles in the district,” she said on Wednesday. “It's been an incredible journey.”
Panza said he hasn't decided if the human-resources position will be filled, or when.
“It's a real loss to us,” Panza said of Rajgopal's departure. “The district is a better place because of her.”
School board President Anthony Angotti said board members have not met since the position became open.
“We will meet and discuss where to go from here,” he said.
In June, Panza said, district leaders decided to take their public-relations job in a different direction — focusing on technology.
Board members approved the elimination of the district's communication-consultant position, held by Mimi Haley for 14 years.
Panza said he contacted officials at Duquesne and Point Park universities to seek candidates for a yet-to-be-determined position that would oversee social-media usage and website updates and feed stories to the local media.
The person would work about 20 hours a week, and it might be a contracted position, Panza said.
The superintendent said he received applications from 20 people and interviewed 15 of them. He said he hopes to hire someone by the end of September.
“It's very impressive, the quality and the level of the people that are out there right now,” Panza said.
District leaders also hope to hire someone for the reinstated director of curriculum/instruction/assessment position by the end of September, Panza said.
“We really need to take a comprehensive, longitudinal look at our curriculum to make sure that we're aligned with the state Common Core in (kindergarten) through (grade) 12 in all of our subject areas,” Panza said.
The person also will help to oversee professional development and serve as the assessment coordinator in the district, Panza said.
That position has “been on the radar for a while now,” yet board members waited to begin looking until a full-time superintendent was in place, Angotti said.
The last person to hold this job, then called assistant to the superintendent in charge of curriculum, was Suzan Petersen, who retired in June 2010.
“It's our top priority to get that candidate here,” said Angotti, noting that acting superintendents have handled the duties the past few years.
Also open are four full-time and three long-term substitute positions, he said.
District leaders also are planning to hire a baseball coach after the position, held by Kevin Gryboski for one year, was opened in June.
Gryboski was invited to reapply for the job, Panza said.
All of these changes come as the district operates with its first full time superintendent in almost four years — after the suspension and later firing of the former superintendent, Terry Kinavey.
Panza, who signed a five-year contract with West Jefferson Hills, said he hopes he brings stability to the district.
“We need to be moving in a direction to make sure that every child will be prepared for their future,” Panza said. “The past is the past.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Overgrown trees leave Brentwood residents frustrated
- Baldwin settles lawsuit for $7,500
- Baldwin Borough pool closes for repairs, residents may use Brentwood pool
- Study explores potential changes to busy Route 51 corridor
- Officials take first step to transform vacant Brentwood properties
- Pleasant Hills family’s beach vacation takes tragic turn