Lisbon board hires new pricipals

LISBON – The Lisbon school board hired two new administrators at this week’s meeting while saying said goodbye to two others.

Keith Endfield, a principal at Austintown Fitch High School, was hired as the new junior/senior high school principal, replacing Joseph Siefke, who was recently named superintendent to replace retiring Superintendent Don Thompson.

The board then hired Jake Walgate, a junior high mathematics teacher at East Liverpool, as assistant junior/senior high school principal and athletic director.

The assistant principal job had been abolished last year as part of an administrative restructuring plan that involved McKinley Elementary School Principal Helen Otto being named to the new position of director of curriculum and special programs. Dan Kemats, the assistant junior/senior high school principal at the time, replaced Otto as principal at McKinley Elementary.

Otto did not remain long in her new job, however. She has resigned to take an elementary school principal job in Brunswick County, N.C. Otto said after the meeting she and her husband had been thinking about moving south for some time and decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

“We wanted to move that way. We just didn’t think it would be this quickly,” she said.

Thompson said they decided to return to the previous administrative structure rather than name someone to replace Otto because none of the 22 candidates for the principal jobs had the specific experience needed to serve as director of curriculum and special programs.

“There was no one else who interviewed with Helen’s skill set,” he said.

Otto’s duties will be performed by Technologies Director Steve Stewart, who shared the responsibilities before the new position was created. Stewart has retired for good, however, but agreed to stay on part-time until the curriculum/special program duties can be learned and absorbed by the new administrative team.

The recent resignation of Athletic Director Don Feren played into the decision, Thompson said. Rather than fill the position, the athletic director’s duties will be performed by Walgate for no additional pay, which Thompson said is something they have required of some past assistant principals, depending on their experience. Walgate has a sports background, having played and coached varsity basketball.

Between hiring new administrators at a lower pay scale, including Siefke, retaining Stewart at half pay, and rolling the athletic director duties into the assistant principal job at no additional pay, Thompson estimated they will save $90,000.

Edenfield, 32, is a graduate of Austintown Fitch High School and Youngstown State University. He has a master’s degree in education leadership from Ashland University. Edenfield and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters.

Walgate, 32, is a graduate of East Liverpool High School and YSU. He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Salem International University. Walgate and his wife, Karolynn, have a daughter.

Edenfield’s salary is $79,500, ($9,000 less than Siefke) while Walgate will be paid $59,000 compared to $81,635 being earned by Otto.

This marked Thompson’s last meeting as superintendent after nearly 11 years at the helm.

“And now some 150-plus board meetings later I bring you this, my final superintendent’s report, as the memories flood in and make it difficult for me to believe,” he said at the start of what was an often emotional recount of his 35 years in education, the last 25 with Lisbon.

Thompson recalled with pride improvements that have occurred on his watch, both physically and academically. He said he was also proud of his role in creation of the annual county all-star basketball game that has raised more than $200,000 in scholarships for student athletes.

Thompson said he has been privileged to have worked with outstanding administrators, teachers and support staff, especially Treasurer Cindy Shultz.

Lastly, he thanked the board for their support, which is not always the case, judging by the “rancor and bickering that occurs with far too much regularity” at other school board meetings.

“That is not the case here in Lisbon, not that everything is agreed to,” Thompson said. “But the best interests of the students we serve is always uppermost in the board’s mind.”