Pelham officials hope to have a new middle school principal ready to replace the retiring Joe Longobardi by the second week of April.
The school board voted to accept the resignation Longobardi during Monday’s school board meeting. Earlier this month, .
Longobardi, who has been with the school district for 39 years, served as the middle school principal for 20 years and is credited with helping to build the school’s educational program.
Angela Cox, spokeswoman for the school district, said the position has already been opened internally to give current staff members the opportunity to apply to the position. The position will be opened up to candidates outside of the school district by March 9 if qualified candidates don’t step forward internally for the position.
“The board hopes to have a candidate in place by April break, which is April 9-13,” Cox said.
The district may already have a possible candidate in Richard P. Limato, who currently serves as the district’s director of elementary school education. Limato’s position was one of several positions schools Superintendent Dennis Lauro announced would be cut .
Limato served as the principal of Prospect Hill Elementary School before being appointed as director of elementary school education. School officials did not say if Limato applied for the middle school position.
Robert Eicher, the school board president, described the board’s motion to accept Longobardi’s retirement as bittersweet.
“It’s been a bittersweet decision in many ways,” Longobardi said. “My wife finally told me ‘you better make a decision, because you have become totally incoherent, you’re not doing anything but thinking about this. I can tell, so you have to decide one way or the other’ a couple of weeks ago.”
Longobardi said he listened to his wife’s words and though long and hard before making a decision.
“It has been difficult, but that’s wonderful,” Longobardi said. “I feel blessed to have had to make such a difficult decision. I thank God, to work almost 40 years and to not be really 100 percent sure and you can retire if you really want to do it...It tells you that you’ve really had a wonderful experience.”
Lauro said he spoke with Longobardi for hours before a decision was made.
“I know that it wasn’t an easy decision for Joe to reach, but time is right, the family is right,” Lauro said. “Lots of things are happening in his family...I know that his future and the plans that he has are things that he wants to do.”
Louise Muller, who served as the school board president when Longobardi was hired by the district, said Longobardi’s hire was one of the first votes she made on the school board.
“I have watched Joe grow professionally, grow as a human being, grow as an educator and grow as a leader in just the way I think every school board and every parent and every kid wants to see their teachers grow,” Muller said.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story may been misinterpreted to read that school officials said Mr. Limato is a candidate for the Pelham Middle School position. That is not the case and the story has been changed to better reflect that.