After a three-month search, the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District has found its new high school principal.It was announced at the Monday, Nov. 17, school board meeting that Paula Massanari would officially take up the reins at Unionville High School as of Jan. 5, 2009, replacing Jim Fulginitti who stepped down over the summer to take a separate position within the district.

Massanari comes from the Great Valley School District, where she once served as vice principal and has worked as Great Valley's curriculum supervisor for the past 18 months.

Board member Ed Wandersee, who served on the committee that met with and interviewed Massanari, said that she would be the first female principal at UHS after a succession of nine different males.

He added that he was very impressed with Massanari and that he looked forward to working with her.

"I think she will bring new insight to all of us," Wandersee said. "It's nice to have a female in the fold, and a man with four daughters can say that."

Superintendent Sharon Parker said that as the hiring committee looked at resumes, they wanted to be sure that the person matched the description on paper.

"What we found is that the person was much richer, stronger and vibrant than the resume," Parker said.

In her comments to the public, Massanari said that during her interview, she told the search committee that good leadership is all about relationships - a philosophy she will carry into her new position.

"It is my goal to get to know the members of this community, the school community and all of you who come here because you really care about kids," she said. "I am going to make it my first priority to get to understand the culture here."

She added that the physical and emotional safety of the students is also important and that she wants the students to know that when they enter the halls at UHS, they are cared for, accepted and challenged to improve themselves.

Massanari was hired at a starting salary of $130,000.

Other business

The board approved two important and mandatory Plancon documents for the proposed high school renovation, although neither vote met with unanimous support.

The board voted 6-2 on Plancon Part D, which is defined as "project accounting based on estimates" and deals with the financial aspect of the project. Board members Timotha Trigg and Therese West voted against the measure, while Wandersee said "Present" when asked for his vote.

Prior to the vote, Trigg said that even with children in the district who would benefit from the new high school, changes in the economic climate prohibit her from proceeding with the project without further evaluating the long-term impact.

"Instead of automatically proceeding with the plan we made before the economic downturn, we need to reevaluate the situation and make sure this is still the best plan for us," Trigg said.

Wandersee said that while he is not opposed to the project or the expansion, he does believe the district should be careful how it exercises its expenditures with the "financing scheme" they have developed for project funding.

"I feel it's basically risky," he said. "It's not going to be as simple as everyone thinks."

He later added that the time to scale back the project has come and gone.

"The scope train has left the station," Wandersee said.

The board also voted 7-2 to accept the Plancon E document, which deals with the design and development of the project from an architectural standpoint. While Trigg and West again voted against, Wandersee responded to the second vote with a "yes."

Board Member Kathleen Brown said that the documents represented the necessary hoops the district has to jump through before the project can even be sent out to bid.

"We still don't know what it costs," Brown said. "I would like to get these pieces in order so we can go out to bid and find out what we're dealing with."

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