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South Middleton Schools

South Middleton board could appoint assistant to superintendent in February

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The South Middleton School Board could appoint an assistant to the superintendent as early as its Feb. 7 meeting.

Three applicants were scheduled for interviews Tuesday before a team of top-level district administrators, Superintendent James Estep told the school board Monday.

“We could bring you a finalist or a pair of finalists very shortly after that for the board to have the opportunity to interview,” Estep said. “Timing wise, it would be my goal to appoint or name somebody by the first February meeting. In all cases, we’re looking at experienced people who could potentially be held by their current district for at least 60 to 90 days.”

Depending on the circumstances, the newly appointed assistant could start work with South Middleton School District as early as May 1, Estep said.

In early November, Estep rolled out a central office restructuring plan that would enable him to mentor the assistant through the 2022-23 school year with the possibility of that person taking over as chief executive as early as July 1, 2023.

His plan calls for merging all the job responsibilities of the director of curriculum and instruction into the approved job description of assistant to the superintendent. The director position would be abolished effective July 1, 2022.

The assistant position would not only oversee curriculum development and professional training but a multitude of other administrative functions.

“Most importantly, it would allow me to do what I set out to do when the board brought me on, which was to help you through a transition period,” Estep said Monday. “We can bring someone in and hopefully spend at least a year, possibly two, to cycle through all the things that a superintendent does and take the assistant through the process.”

“It also gives you [the board] an opportunity to watch and see how that person interacts with staff and the community,” Estep said. “If gives you a chance to see if the person feels like a good fit. If you don’t think this is the person you want as the next superintendent, you have lost nothing. You still have a person overseeing curriculum, instruction and other areas.”

In rolling out the plan, Estep clarified the difference between “assistant to the superintendent” and “assistant superintendent.”

“If you title this position ‘assistant superintendent’, it becomes a position like mine,” he said in November. “I’m a commissioned officer of the state of Pennsylvania. Under the rules for a commissioned officer, you must be given a contract of a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years. The same holds true for an assistant superintendent.”

However, there is no requirement for a contract for an “assistant to the superintendent” position and the person would fall under the Act 93 compensation plan for district administrators. Estep said this approach would give the applicant and the board greater flexibility.

Email Joseph Cress at


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