Philipsburg-Osceola Area Superintendent Gregg Paladina announced he is leaving the school district to take the same position with Punxsutawney Area School District.
The Punxsutawney Area school board approved the hire at a meeting Wednesday night.
In a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Paladina told the CDT it’s a decision that weighs heavily on his heart, but one that also makes the most sense for his family.
“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful three years,” Paladina said. “Everybody has been extremely welcoming and we’ve made huge strides in the last few years that would have been easy to stay longer. … It was a decision that came down to my family.”
Paladina, a father of four, said his youngest son has health problems that force him to get care at a children’s hospital in Pittsburgh.
“The drive alone is worth it,” Paladina said. “It’s an emotional thing for me to leave, but we’ve been so far away from the place of his care, and will be twice as close to Pittsburgh as we are now, and we’re there on a bimonthly basis.”
He added that his wife’s family also lives in the area.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t have mixed emotions a hundred times in the last two weeks, but it’s a family choice that absolutely comes first,” Paladina said.
Paladina signed a five-year superintendent contract in Punxsutawney.
He was three years into a contract at P-O that would’ve lasted until 2019.
“Our board made every effort to try to keep me,” Paladina said. “We’ve been negotiating for the last month, but I’m excited for the new opportunity.”
During Paladina’s time in P-O, he said state test scores increased by 15 percent, and the high school went from a state ranking of 498 to 67 in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
“There’s a lot less heavy lifting today than there was when I started,” Paladina said. “We have great administration and great teachers who contributed to our growth, and improved the facilities and academics. … I have a high degree of confidence the board will continue on a good pace for good things and a bright future.”
P-O has about 1,700 students in the district. Punxsutawney Area has about 2,200.
“One thing I’m glad about is that I’ll be leaving the district better than it was when I started,” Paladina said. “I’m not sure what the future holds there (Punxsutawney), but I’m going to get to know the district, forge some good relationships, and feel things out. I know they have good things going on with them, but I’m sure there is also room for improvement.”
The P-O school board is expected to accept Paladina’s resignation at its next meeting.
Paladina said his last day at P-O will be in mid-July.
“I’ll be seeing out graduation this year, and running the gamut until my time is done,” Paladina said. “The board is working and soliciting the position, and working hard to identify a good direction. I think the best thing is three years ago, this position wasn’t a desirable job, but now the heavy lifting is done and it’s left better than it was then.”
Paladina was the principal of two elementary schools in Karns City before moving to P-O.