School District Hires COO
Michael Simonetta takes on new position, replacing two retiring administrators.
A longtime New Jersey school administrator has just become the Easton Area School District's new Chief Operating Officer.
The school board voted Monday to create the new position, and to hire Michael Simonetta, the current business administrator for the Hackettstown School District, to take the job.
Simonetta, 52, of Forks Township replaces Easton business manager Marie Guidry and assistant to the superintendent Joseph Kish, both of whom are retiring. The board voted earlier this year to seek one person to fill both jobs, and paid the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards $8,500 to conduct a search.
Simonetta's appointment came despite disapproval from members of the public as well as board members, some of whom objected to the length of his contract, others who worried about Simonetta jumping from a smaller district to a larger one and handling the jobs of two administrators.
The board voted 7-2 to create the position, and 6-3 to hire Simonetta.
Previous COOs have "had full plates the whole time," said board member Tim Reilly, who voted against creating the position and hiring Simonetta.
Board member Pat Vulcano said it's a common practice in New Jersey for administrators to handle several jobs.
"They're great multi-taskers over there," he said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Simonetta argued that living in the Easton Area has allowed him to follow district issues, and that he won't be dealing with anything here that he hasn't tackled in New Jersey.
"It's kind of the same issues on a bigger scale," he said.
According to his five-year contract, Simonetta will be paid $130,000 a year, with 3 percent annual raises each year after the first year. The job lists 42 essential duties for the new COO, from planning the district budget to investing money to ordering warehouse supplies.
Resident Drew Anderson criticized the contract for its five-year provision, arguing that "these days, for most of us, you're an at-will employee...This would get an F if it was a case study at Wharton."
Simonetta grew up in Easton and attended Phillipsburg Catholic schools. He has been an educator in New Jersey for 25 years.