Liberty schools leader draws from experience

Board offers 1-year contract

LIBERTY — The interim superintendent hired by the Liberty Local School District has worked throughout the region to provide support and services for schools to aid improvements in special education, early learning, school readiness and other areas.

The school board hired Andrew J. Tommelleo on Monday for a one-year, $72,100 contract that includes no health care benefits or “other amenities,” assistant Superintendent Debra Mettee said. The contract includes 12 days of paid vacation but no paid holidays, she said.

Tommelleo has a doctorate in education from Youngstown State University and received other degrees and certifications from YSU and universities in Pennsylvania, according to his resume.

“Dr. Tommelleo, a former superintendent, principal and teacher in Pennsylvania, has been working as a consultant with the Ohio Department of Education … and therefore has already been working with districts in this area and comes with extensive background and knowledge on providing guidance to districts through a continuous improvement process with a focus on leadership and inclusive instructional programs to help each student achieve a high-quality education,” Mettee said.

The position is being filled on an interim basis for now because of the “urgency” to fill the position quickly to start planning for the reopening of schools as the pandemic continues, she said.

“The board did not feel they would have adequate time to conduct a broad, careful and in-depth search for a permanent superintendent and plans to do so in the spring when hopefully things return to a ‘new’ normal for everyone,” Mettee said.

Liberty schools open for the 2020-21 school year Aug. 31. Joseph Nohra, former superintendent, resigned June 20.

The job was not advertised.

Mettee said it wasn’t posted because initially the plan was for her to take over as the interim for a short period, but “the timing did not work out.”

Others who submitted resumes, or submitted resumes and were interviewed, are:

– Alex Geordan of Southington, superintendent of Canfield Local School District from 2012 to 2020;

– Terri Hrina of Kent, assistant superintendent of Rootstown Local School District;

– John T. McMahan III of Rock Creek, former Taft Elementary School principal;

– Maria Cougras Pappas of Poland, chief of curriculum with the Youngstown City School District;

– Richard Shepas of Boardman, chief of physical development and athletics with the Youngstown City School District.

One person who was interviewed, David Macali, did not provide a resume.

Tommelleo, of New Castle, Pa., worked as interim superintendent in Leetonia from January through July, “where he led the district through the unprecedented shutdown in March, providing meals to students and working through curriculum delivery models and technology challenges,” Mettee noted.

She said the board of education backed Tommelleo to head the district through what is sure to be an “uncertain time,” because of how COVID-19 will challenge resources and routine.

He is ready to “hit the ground running,” she said.

In Tommelleo’s application, he included a 90-day action plan with proposed district goals to improve communication, community engagement, staff engagement, equity and student leadership.

The district’s initial reopening plans are available at www.liberty.k12.oh.us.



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