Fitch principal to lead district in Austintown
AUSTINTOWN — Fitch High School Principal Timothy Kelty will replace Austintown Schools Superintendent David Cappuzzello when he retires at the end of the school year.
“It’s sincerely my honor,” Kelty said. “From a student, to a teacher, to a coach, to a principal and for me to even say I now have the title of superintendent — it’s an honor.”
The board of education had a special meeting Friday, during which members unanimously approved the promotion. Board President Don Sherwood said the board received a handful of applicants and interviewed the top three.
Other than Kelty, the board interviewed Holly Welch and Jeffrey Hartmann. Welch is assistant principal at Austintown Elementary School, and Hartmann is the principal at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Summit County.
Sherwood said all had good resumes, but Kelty’s many years of experience in the district made him stand out.
“He’s been a lifelong Austintown resident and employee,” Sherwood said of Kelty, a Fitch graduate. “His body of work, especially in the last three or four years at Fitch High School, has been fantastic. He’s had really a monumental hand in that building, really showing what it can do. I think this board felt he should be rewarded for that.”
Kelty said he is honored to have been offered the position and said he is ready to start working to leave a positive mark on the district for years to come. He said 20 or 30 years down the line, he wants his actions to still be felt in the district.
During his time in the district, he has served as the head principal at the former Woodside Elementary School, assistant principal at Austintown Intermediate School and both assistant and head principal at Austintown Elementary School. He is in his fourth year as head principal at Fitch High School. He also has coached football and baseball, and had a hand in the creation of the AFHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
A couple of years after high school, Kelty joined the Army. He returned home in 1989, but was called back to serve in Desert Storm in 1990. In 1991, he returned home and picked up his schooling at Youngstown State University.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in school administration, both from YSU. For three years, Kelty taught in Lisbon before returning to Austintown. He said Fitch left a mark on him from his time growing up, so it was always his goal to return to the district.
“Coming here as a student, I just had so many role models and so many mentors. I was just treated so well, and it was my home away from home,” Kelty said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I just kept moving forward, and things kept falling into place for me. How could I say no? I didn’t want to say no to any position they had for me.”
Coming into the position, Kelty will have to take over two major projects the district has undertaken — construction of new home-side bleachers at the stadium and construction of a new indoor athletic facility.
Kelty and Sherwood also said the district recently was ranked in the top 15 percent in the state. Both men attributed the ranking to the caliber of the district’s teachers and staff.
“We have a lot of good things going here, so I think one of the most important things Mr. Kelty’s going to have to focus on here is keeping our talent,” Sherwood said. “We have phenomenal building leaders, department heads and awesome, awesome teachers. We want to make sure our people stay here and continue to flourish.”
Kelty said he is proud that he has served in so many positions and said he thinks that will help him as he steps into yet another position. He has been able to make connections in each of the buildings throughout the district, so he said he has a good pulse on the district’s wants and needs.
Even as superintendent, he said he wants to be in the buildings around the students and teachers, because that’s what he’s drawn to.
“These people, this community — they’re part of me and I’m part of them. I’m you. I’m just like you,” Kelty said. “I want them to be just as proud of me as I am of them because that’s who I am. I’m right alongside them, and I think they know that.”
The board unanimously appointed Kelty assistant superintendent at its February meeting. At the time, Sherwood said it was done to aid with the transition as Cappuzzello’s retirement drew closer.
Kelty has retained his duties as head principal and does not receive additional pay for the additional position. The district did not have an assistant superintendent before Kelty was appointed, but it had under Cappuzzello’s predecessor.
Kelty will remain the principal at Fitch until June 30, the same day Cappuzzello’s term ends as superintendent. Kelty’s term as superintendent will begin July 1 and last until June 30, 2028, at which time the board will have to decide whether or not to renew his contract.
Sherwood said a salary has not been set. Currently, Kelty makes $102,582 and Cappuzzello makes $143,263.
Sherwood said that Cappuzzello’s experience is unparalleled, so the district will take advantage of the time left until his retirement for some training for Kelty.
“I can’t stress enough that he took over after, in my opinion, a pretty difficult decade, if you will,” Sherwood said. “What Dave has been able to do here with morale in teachers and student attendance and just overall community buy-in, has been fantastic, and I want that to be known. His body of work is excellent, and we expect Mr. Kelty to continue that path forward.”
Kelty acknowledged that he has large shoes to fill. He said he is spoiled because Cappuzzello has set so many positive things in motion for the district that he will be taking over. Kelty is the 14th person to be named superintendent in the district’s 100-plus year history. He said he feels internal pressure to do well, because of how well his predecessors have done.
“Being an alum, I can’t let it fail. I won’t fail. I can’t fail,” Kelty said.