Assistant Superintendent Joseph W. Mancuso III will end his 28-year career with South Middleton School District on June 30.
The next day, July 1, he will start his new job as superintendent of the Eastern York School District in Wrightsville.
The South Middleton School Board Monday voted unanimously to accept with regret the resignation of Mancuso, who had moved up through the Bubbler ranks from teacher and football coach to building-level administrator to second in command of the district.
“We wish him well,” board president Randy Varner said. “We know Eastern York is getting a good superintendent and a good man.”
“I have enjoyed all my time here and all the positions I had,” said Mancuso, a South Middleton Township resident who plans to commute to his new job. “I am ready to get to work in Eastern York. The [interview] process has given me an opportunity to get to know the [Eastern York] board as well as administrators, teachers and some community members.”
A native of Connellsville, Fayette County, Mancuso earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Edinboro University and a master’s degree in educational administration and principal’s certification from Shippensburg University. He earned his doctorate degree in July 2013 from Widener University.
Mancuso worked half a year as a long-term substitute in his native school district before coming to South Middleton as a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher. He was in the classroom about five years before he became an assistant principal of what was then the Boiling Springs Junior/Senior High School.
Mancuso served as principal of Boiling Springs High School from August 1999 to January 2014 when he became assistant superintendent. The board in December 2013 had appointed him assistant superintendent to replace Frederick Withum, who became superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District.
Mancuso was assistant superintendent under Al Moyer, who stepped down as superintendent last August, and Bruce Deveney, who was appointed by the board to serve as acting superintendent until a permanent replacement could be found.
The South Middleton board on March 27 appointed Matthew Strine the new superintendent to replace Moyer. Strine starts the job in Boiling Springs on July 1 but has the flexibility of working with Deveney to ease the transition.
The board hopes that a new assistant superintendent could start at the same time as Strine, Varner said. “The first thing we have to do is have a conversation with our new superintendent to see what he envisions his central office will look like and then, as a board, we will take that into account and try to put the team together.”
There was public support early in the South Middleton search process for Mancuso to be appointed superintendent. Last August, Tom Merlie was the only school board member to vote against the motion to appoint Deveney acting superintendent. Merlie said he had the utmost respect and admiration for Deveney, the retired superintendent of the East Pennsboro Area School District.
What Merlie voted against was the process the board used to find a replacement. He wanted the board to promote from within and appoint Mancuso superintendent rather than see the district invest time and money on a search.
“I believe that we have a candidate,” Merlie said last August. “I believe the district should get a return on its investment. We hire people. We educate people. We train people. There comes a time when you need to get a return on that investment.”
Mancuso earned his doctorate degree while working as an administrator for the district. Merlie, who left the board in December, said he would rather see South Middleton reap the awards of that training or at least have a chance.
Merlie was not alone. Local resident Bob Cronin also asked the board to consider appointing Mancuso district superintendent. Cronin questioned why Mancuso could not step up.
Michael Berk was the South Middleton School Board president last August when the decision was made to hire Templeton Advantage of Newport to help with the search as a consultant. Berk said appointing Mancuso the acting superintendent would have left a void in leadership at a critical time when Mancuso was involved in technology and curriculum initiatives important to starting up the 2017-18 school year.
In the past, the Sentinel had asked Berk if Mancuso was in the running for the job of superintendent of South Middleton School District. Berk would not comment citing personnel reasons. Neither Mancuso nor Varner would comment Monday on whether Mancuso was in the running for the job. Mancuso said he would prefer to focus on the future.
The Eastern York School Board appointed Mancuso superintendent in early April. “The board is excited to bring Dr. Mancuso into the district,” board president Mark Keller said. “He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and a real passion for leadership, all of which will make him a great fit for Eastern York.”
Mancuso will replace Darla Pianowski who served as the superintendent of Eastern York for about 12 years. “Under her leadership, we are in a very good position to move forward under Dr. Mancuso’s leadership,” Keller said.