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Superintendent moving on after 4 years

| Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007

Since the beginning of the school year, the South Butler County School District has been hit by a series of resignations of top administrators.

At its next meeting, the school board plans to receive yet another resignation -- the fifth in five months.

This time, it's from their superintendent.

Patrick O'Toole, who has been superintendent since replacing retired David Pisani in 2003, was hired this week as the superintendent of the Upper St. Clair School District. He is expected to begin in April and be paid $140,000 a year.

According to board secretary Todd O'Shell, the district had previously received resignations from the assistant superintendent, administrative assistant for human resources, business manager, and director of buildings and grounds.

"They are all bettering themselves, in their minds," O'Shell said. "The only thing is, they all have taken advantage of an opportunity at the same time."

O'Shell is unaware of other reasons as to why administrators are leaving the district.

Business Manager Wendy Zitalone and the director of buildings and grounds, Kevin Carhart, were the first to leave the district in September.

Zitalone was replaced in mid-October by Debbie Drandstetter, who is paid $70,000 a year. Carhart was replaced by Chris Reiser at the beginning of January and is paid $45,000.

Assistant Superintendent Lyn Logelin and Administrative Assistant for Human Resources Allison Swoager left the school district at the end of December. Neither has been replaced.

The school district is no stranger when it comes to having to replace personnel in a short period of time.

"We had this happen before, in 1999," O'Shell said. "The district had to replace an elementary principal, two assistant principals and the business manager in a short period of time."

With three administrative positions soon to be vacant, the school board has had to put a plan in place.

School board President Jim Jones said their plan is to place an interim superintendent before hiring a superintendent.

Jones was unable to offer any of the candidates' names.

"At this time, our first order of business is to get an interim superintendent," he said. "The second is to hire a superintendent."

The board has put the hiring of an assistant superintendent on hold until a superintendent is hired, said Jones.

"I think that the superintendent should have a say in the hiring of the assistant superintendent," he said.

The board has not negotiated any salary increases to attract candidates or make the administrative positions more stable.

The board has not set a time frame on when the district will hire a superintendent.

"There is no way we can predict how long the interim superintendent will be in that position," he said. "Once one is hired, then we have to wait for that person to be released from another position.

"There is no prediction on how long."

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