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Frontier Superintendent DeCarli is undecided about retirement

Three weeks ago, Frontier School Superintendent Ronald G. DeCarli announced during a heated closed-door School Board meeting that he would resign in August.

Now, he's not so sure.

"I have a decision to make over the next month, based on my family," DeCarli said in a recent interview. "I have an elderly mother in skilled nursing and some professional possibilities."

"[Retirement] has all been in the thought process with my wife, and I'm working hard to keep Frontier moving, and do hiring and wrap up with school," he said, adding that he would have a better idea of his plans by August.

DeCarli, 64, makes $186,010 a year. He is the third-highest-paid among Erie County's school superintendents. He has not submitted a formal letter of resignation to the board, which next meets July 6 in its reorganizational meeting.

"The unique thing is I have fallen in love with Frontier and the families, so a decision is not easy for me," said DeCarli, who also does motivational speaking engagements on the side. He has been with Frontier since March 2007 after seven years as superintendent of Akron schools.

The School Board, in recent months, has been divided on numerous issues, including conducting a formal evaluation of DeCarli's job performance, which is required each year but was not performed this past school year. Some members have been outspoken in their criticism of the superintendent.

Before last week's board meeting, board President Nancy Wood met with three members, apparently over answering a reporter's questions about what DeCarli had said during a closed-door session.

"The entire actions of the board are being disgraced by the actions of a few," Wood said, publicly scolding anyone for discussing anything said behind closed doors.

In the meantime, board debate continued about DeCarli's delayed job evaluation. Some board members said DeCarli had been evaluated only once since he came to Frontier, but Wood said last week that evaluations were done in 2007-08 and in 2008-09. She said an evaluation was not done for 2009-10 because DeCarli "gave up his raise because of the economy."

But DeCarli did receive a raise, which took effect last July. He had frozen his pay raise for six months last year but ended up receiving the raise.

Wood blamed the lack of an evaluation this year on board Vice President Stanley Figiel, saying that he had decided to "forgo" the evaluation. But Figiel quickly responded that he never intended for the board not to evaluate DeCarli, only to delay it. "I felt we should delay the process but not eliminate the process," Figiel said. "There must be an evaluation done."

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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