By EMMALEE C. TORISK
With little more than a month until the start of the 2014-15 school year, Lowellville Local Schools has found itself without a superintendent.
Rocco Nero, who has served as the district’s superintendent for the past 10 years, will take over as part-time superintendent of Southington Local Schools on Aug. 1, meaning that he’ll work 200 days each year instead of the 230 to 260 days included in a full-time contract, said Janet Ward, the district’s treasurer.
Nero’s last day at Lowellville will be July 31.
At Lowellville, Nero made $98,000 annually. At Southington, he’ll make $75,000 each year.
During the interview process, Nero indicated that he was “very interested in a part-time position” at this point in his career, said Bob Baugher, president of the Southington school board.
“It’s what he wanted, and it’s what we wanted,” Baugher said. “It worked out.”
Baugher added that Nero also expressed his interest in working in smaller school systems and in staying in Trumbull County. Nero lives in Cortland.
Jim Alfano, president of the Lowellville Board of Education, said he is disappointed to lose Nero. The school district received Nero’s resignation late Tuesday.
“I thought that the experience he brings to the district would’ve been very useful going forward with everything we’re dealing with,” Alfano said, referring in part to state-mandated changes to education requirements.
Nero, a graduate of Lowellville High School and a former superintendent of the Bristol Local School District, said he didn’t yet know many specifics about his new position, which is on a three-year contract. He said everything with the position has happened only within the past two or three weeks.
Nero had been working with Lowellville under a contract set to expire July 31, though board members last year approved a one-year extension that ran through July 31, 2015. At the board’s regular meeting July 10, a three-year extension to Nero’s contract was proposed, but shot down by a 2-2 vote.
Joe Ballone and Michele McCaughtry voted against the extension, while Lisa Donofrio and Alfano voted in favor of it. Robert Zackasee, school-board vice president, was not present.
Alfano said he disagreed with the outcome of the vote, adding that having stability in higher administrative areas within the district is important — especially in times of change.
The school board will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday with officials from the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to begin the process of searching for a new superintendent. Alfano is hopeful the process can be expedited and that the district can “get somebody in as soon as possible,” maybe even by the time school begins in late August.
In a new leader, the district should have someone who is able to lead it in a positive direction.
“We wish [Nero] well in his new position,” Alfano said, “and we’re going to work very hard to get a new person in place, so we can make this transition as seamless as possible.”