The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 27, 2013

Michael Calla to take helm of city schools

Will step in as early as Friday

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Michael Calla, a familiar face in Sharon schools, will reprise his role as acting superintendent, just in time to lead a special board meeting at 6 p.m. Friday when the district’s 2013-14 budget is expected to be adopted.

In February 2006, Calla took a break as the district’s curriculum director to step in as superintendent. He held the post for more than a year until John Sarandrea was hired in 2007.

In addition to adopting a budget Friday, the board is expected to accept Sararandrea’s resignation, despite the 4è years he has left on his contract. He was hired Tuesday night as superintendent of New Castle School District. Monday is the first day of his five-year contract with that district, where he formerly was an English teacher, principal and varsity basketball coach.

Calla, of Sharon, has worked in the district since 1988. He made the climb to principal at C.M. Musser Elementary in 1995, then was appointed in 2002 to his current post as curriculum director.

Despite a budget that likely means teacher layoffs and Sarandrea’s departure, one thing everyone seems to agree on is having Calla step in as acting superintendent.

“Mike will be excellent for us,” said board member Richard Mancino.

“I think it’s a great move to put Mike Calla in there,” said Sue Mulvey, mother of three students in the district.

Since Sarandrea worked as a team player, it should be smooth turnover for a new superintendent, Mancino said. “Every decision Sarandrea made was discussed with Calla, the principals and the board.”

Sarandrea said that Calla knows everything he knows.

With Calla at the helm, Sarandrea said he is confident that he leaves the district in good hands to carry on without him. “It’s bittersweet,” Sarandrea said. “There is no other job I would’ve taken to leave Sharon.”

Sarandrea’s resignation came as no surprise to the staff or board members.

He sent an e-mail to teachers and staff in May about his possible resignation, and informed board members of when his departure became imminent, according to school officials.

“I hope people recognize that I’ve given it my best effort in the last six years.” Sarandrea said. “All decisions were made for the kids.”

Mancino said Sarandrea did a great job at Sharon, building the morale of teachers and bringing pride back to the school.

“He’s always concerned about what’s best for the students,” Mancino said.

There have been rumors that Sarandrea might be leaving, according to Mulvey.

“Congratulations, this is a move up in his career,” Mulvey said. Sarandrea will be paid $130,000 in the first year of his contract in New Castle, up from the $117,000 he earned in Sharon.

But, she said, “He’ll go on and leave us in all this debt when we should’ve been hiring teachers and making sure our kids get the best education.”

She was referring to the building of a new Case Avenue Elementary School at a cost of about $22 million and the potential layoffs in the new budget.

Sarandrea is the latest in a line of changes among Sharon school officials.

June 17, the school board accepted the resignation of longtime board member and superintendent of Farrell Area School Distrct Lora Adams-King. She didn’t say why she resigned.

Last month, primary election voters nominated four newcomers for four board seats, two left open by school directors who chose not to seek another term. Newcomers are Matt Webber, John Heutsche, Susan Torr and Tony Molinari.

Calla could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.