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Highlands again recalls a former superintendent

| Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009

For the second time in less than 18 months, the board has hired a former district superintendent to do an encore.

By an 8-0 vote with board member Bill Heasley absent, the board on Monday hired Louis J. Baldassare, who was Highlands' superintendent from 1986 to 1999, as interim superintendent.

Board president Debbie Beale said Baldassare began working Feb. 2. She said the vote Monday was a ratification of that action, and that it was done under the advice of Solicitor Ira Weiss.

Beale and Business Manager Jon Rupert said Baldassare will be paid $30,000 for a five-month period that ends June 30.

Baldassare will be filling in for Superintendent Karol Galcik who, under the terms of her contract, is on leave through June 30.

However, Galcik will not return because the board did not renew her contract. Technically, she remains the superintendent, but her last day on the job was Jan. 30.

The action was a familiar one. On Sept. 10, 2007, the board hired another former district superintendent, Nick J. Staresinic, to take over the reins when Galcik went on a medical leave which lasted until January 2008.

Oddly enough, the board last month hired Baldassare to conduct a nationwide search for candidates to succeed Galcik. He is being paid $5,000 to do it.

Beale said the board is confident that Baldassare can wear both hats and that being the substitute superintendent will help with the search since a lot has changed in the district since he retired 10 years ago.

"Dr. Baldassare is only a substitute," Beale emphasized. "Dr. Galcik is still on record as superintendent."

As for why the board decided on Baldassare, she said, "We went over quite a few people, we looked at people from the IU (Allegheny County Intermediate Unit)and he came up with a proposal that everybody liked. We figured if he is in here doing the search and he made an offer to us, he's local and he has a feel for the district."

She said that the going rate to pay retired superintendents to be substitute or acting is $400 per day and what Baldassare proposed to work for was less than $300 a day.

Beale pointed out that since Michael Bjalobok resigned as assistant superintendent in December, that position is vacant and the board is not going to hire anyone until the new superintendent is found. She said that is a savings to the district.

"Actually Dr. Baldassare will be taking the place of two people and I thought it was a fair price," Beale said. "I'm glad it's him."

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