Two of the three highest positions in the Pittston Area School District have been eliminated.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jack Lussi announced his retirement at Tuesday's school board meeting and the board reassigned Dr. Janet Donovan from principal of curriculum to building principal at the Intermediate Center.
The assistant superintendent and principal of curriculum positions won't be filled.
The changes come on the heels of the retirement of Superintendent George Cosgrove. He was replaced Tuesday night by former Wyoming Valley West Superintendent Michael Garzella.
Lussi, who headed Tuesday's meeting, announced his retirement effective Dec. 21, though he also asked for and received approval to use accumulated vacation before then. His last day will be Aug 24.
"This will be my last meeting," he told the board. "I enjoyed serving with every one of you. We don't always agree. That's just the way I am. I always give you my honest opinion. But I will tell you that whatever position I take is the position I feel is in the best interest of our kids. And I know you're the same way. That's why sometimes we disagree."
Lussi served the district for 40 years. He started as a social studies teacher, and then was the home and school visitor, director of pupil services, transportation coordinator, middle school principal, high school principal, district principal and finally assistant superintendent.
"And now, enough's enough," Lussi joked.
The board thanked him for his many years of service.
The board voted to bump Donovan to principal at the Intermediate Center, which houses third , fourth and fifth grades. The plan is to eliminate the principal of curriculum post and have the district's school principals and Garzella assume the responsibilities.
Donovan will replace Stanley Waleski, who submitted his letter of retirement.
Board member Bob Linskey objected to the demotion and argued that many board members likely didn't know the amount of work Donovan has been doing.
"This is a very asinine move to make," Linskey said. "We just voted on a new superintendent to come in. We don't have an assistant superintendent any longer. We really have no one that's the go-to person, that's second in command."
Donovan spoke to the board and listed much of the work she's done in the past three years.
She said she revised and implemented a district strategic plan, arranged and managed professional development for teachers, coordinated in-service sessions, worked with the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, purchased text books, coordinated technology framework issues within the district and helped write grant applications that netted $1.2 million.
Donovan was a school administrator for the Diocese of Scranton and Northwest Area School District prior to joining the staff at Pittston Area.
Board president Tony Guariglia said the district can't afford the position.
"I know how important her position is, unfortunately, financial constraints are forcing us into this," he said. "As sad as I am to see us lose that position, because I believe it's a vital position, economically, we couldn't sustain it."
Eliminating the position saves roughly $100,000.
But Guariglia said Donovan will be an asset to the Intermediate Center.
"My son is in that building," he said. "I can't think of anybody that would do a better job. She is outstanding."
When asked, Donovan said she is willing and able to fill in for the superintendent if needed.