The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

August 11, 2012

Help new super get traction

So, the new Shikellamy school board has its superintendent.

Former Superintendent Robin Musto retired unexpectedly in March, three months after the current board of school directors took office.

Musto, who was in the second year of a five-year contract, took a 30-day leave of absence and never returned.

The new board was elected after a contentious 2011 that included a bizarre series of public spectacles, mostly dealing with the district administration's handling of issues related to coaches of sports teams.

Patrick Kelley, 52, of Bath, N.Y., therefore has some fences to mend and test scores to improve. The district's high-achieving students rival those in neighboring districts. Shikellamy has struggled to demonstrate a consistent ability to overcome the challenges facing schools presented with large populations of students from economically challenged and academically disinterested families. The most recent bruise came after two Shikellamy elementary schools were included on a list of the worst-performing schools in the state, meaning parents can seek to use government-sponsored $8,500 scholarships to attend other public or private schools.

School board members voted unanimously to hire Kelley as the fifth superintendent to lead the Shikellamy School District since James Hartman retired in 2006.

"I am appreciative and looking forward to coming here to Shikellamy," said Kelley, who received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Bloomsburg University. "This is truly an honor and privilege."

Kelley has been the superintendent of the Bath Central School District. Before that, he served four years as superintendent of the Northwestern School District, in Albion, Erie County. Kelley was given a four-year contract and will be paid $125,000. He said he is searching for a house for his family.

"We are excited the district can finally move forward," school director Lori Garman said.

The Shikellamy school board has struggled to sustain traction over the past 18 months. The revolving door on the office of the superintendent has not helped. A district with a vision and a plan needs consistent leadership to manage long-term improvement. That has been absent in Shikellamy for too long.

School board leaders have found a top administrator of their choosing. They must now work with Kelley to help the district elevate its academic performance.

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