Mark P. Mondanaro, the superintendent of Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda schools who in his nearly seven years instituted strong academic and financial planning in the district, announced Tuesday that he is retiring this summer to raise his two grandchildren.
“For a few years now, my wife and I have had the opportunity to raise our two wonderful grandchildren,” Mondanaro said in a prepared statement read during Tuesday’s School Board meeting. “But as I honestly reflect, I can see the time has come to retire from at least a full-time job such as this.”
The board approved a motion by President Bob Dana to accept Mondanaro’s resignation “reluctantly, with great regret.”
Mondanaro, whose last day will be July 31, was faced during his tenure with a decline in enrollment from 9,000 students to 7,000, stagnant state financial aid and increasing costs that led to an ongoing school consolidation process now nearly two years old. A decision by the board on whether to close schools is expected this spring.
“I am not the face of consolidation,” Mondanaro said in the statement. “The unquestionable sustainability issues our school district has were seeded long before I became your superintendent. They’ve been exasperated in this changed economy, and they will eventually lead to a marginalized experience for our students, staff and parents if not addressed after I am gone.”
Mondanaro, 57, came to Ken-Ton in July 2007 from the much smaller LaFayette School District south of Syracuse where he also served as superintendent.
Parent and teacher representatives at Tuesday’s meeting had positive views of Mondanaro’s service. Teachers had a good working relationship with Mondanaro on issues such as contract negotiations, said Peter Stuhlmiller, president of the Kenmore Teachers Association.
Jill O’Malley, an outspoken opponent of school consolidations and head of the unofficial Ken-Ton Parent Alliance, said she understood that Mondanaro was faced with many challenges and difficult decisions.
“We’ve had many disagreements, but he’s professional about it,” she said.
And Ken-Ton PTSA Council President Karen Whitelaw lauded Mondanaro for keeping parents well-informed and involved.
“He is just so open for the parents,” she said. “It’s going to be tough. We’re going to miss him.”
The board formed a subcommittee consisting of Dana, Vice President Stephen G. Brooks and Stephen Bovino, assistant superintendent for human resources, to develop the process for selecting a new superintendent.