'Strong affection' for Uniontown school community keeps superintendent on job without pay

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

For months, Dr. Charles Machesky felt that March 28, 2013, was approaching like a freight train.

Though he officially retired as Uniontown Area School District superintendent last April, he decided to work without his former $122,000 annual salary for a year to see the district through a $60 million building project.

But as people kept asking if he was looking forward to his final day of work in March, Machesky got more nervous.

He has no hobbies. He doesn't hunt or fish. He likes to travel, but realized he couldn't do that all the time.

Machesky's wife, Mary, a retired teacher, and his three daughters knew it was bothering him.

“We know you, Dad,” his daughters told him. “We don't know what you're going to do.”

Just before Christmas, Machesky decided to keep working. With the school board's approval, Machesky this week agreed to remain as the unpaid superintendent for three more years.

“I have a strong affection for this school community,” said Machesky, 59. “I'm doing what I love to do.”

Machesky joins a small fraternity of superintendents who work without pay in Pennsylvania schools.

Superintendents M. Joseph Brady of the Minersville Area School District in Schuylkill County and Anthony Perrone of the Greater Nanticoke School District in Luzerne County work without paychecks, according to the most recent records from the state Department of Education.

Both said they have volunteered their time in retirement for about a decade.

“I chose to give something back to the district to be of help,” said Brady, who is 84.

Machesky said he feels the same about Uniontown Area.

“There's no ulterior motive,” he said. “I want to do nothing more than serve the public.”

He grew up in the city, served on the school board and was mayor for eight years.

He has worked in the district since 1992, starting as a principal and then special education director. He took over as superintendent in 2002.

When he decided to retire, Machesky said, he had just lost several colleagues at a young age. He worried about signing another contract which under school code must be at least three years.

So he decided to retire, collect his pension but continue on as unpaid acting superintendent for a year.

“The more I thought about it, I could not be happy (retiring),” he said.

Machesky said school board President Thomas George was intrigued that he wanted to continue without a paycheck for three more years. Not having to pay a superintendent will save the district about $500,000 to $600,000 over the four years.

George, a retired educator himself, said at first he didn't believe Machesky.

“When I retired 12 years ago, I went home,” George said. “We were amazed, but he still has the talent and the ability. ... We're blessed that he wants to do it.”

Since he decided to stay, Machesky said he's much happier. He's excited to go to work and doesn't feel the pressure of worrying about whether he'll get another paid contract.

When his unpaid contract ends in 2016, Machesky may be in a different place. He might have grandchildren by then. He may decide it's time to finally sit still.

Or he may be like his father, Stanley, who at 73 was still working as Uniontown's street superintendent and wouldn't retire.

Machesky was mayor at the time, and he and council decided to abolish his father's position, effectively retiring him.

He'll likely take the advice his father gave him as he was deciding whether to retire.

“Go home and look in the mirror,” Stanley Machesky, now 95, told his son. “And the only person you have to please and satisfy is Chuck.”

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or jreeger@tribweb.com.

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