Thorpe hires new superintendent
John Rushefski was named the new Jim Thorpe Area School District Superintendent Thursday night. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Jim Thorpe Area School District has hired a new superintendent, meaning it will not renew Dr. Brian Gasper’s contract when it expires in June.
The school board voted unanimously at a special meeting Monday night to hire John Rushefski as its new superintendent, effective July 1.
Rushefski has been superintendent at Old Forge School District since 2014.
Rushefski has a three-year contract with Jim Thorpe Area School District and his starting salary will be $132,000.
Board President Pearl Downs-Sheckler said Rushefski’s experience made him the most qualified candidate for the job.
“He has the experience, he has the personality, I think he’s going to be a good fit,” she said.
Rushefski has experience as a superintendent and principal at both the high school and elementary school level.
Before serving as superintendent at Old Forge, Rushefski served seven years as principal of the former Chestnuthill Elementary in the Pleasant Valley School District, and also served as high school principal in Lackawanna Trail School District. Rushefski hasn’t completed a doctoral program but he plans to once he is settled in at Jim Thorpe.
Rushefski was joined at the meeting by supporters, including his wife and children.
He said that his family loves the town of Jim Thorpe, and he has long wanted to be the superintendent of a rural district.
“There’s wonderful things here. The opportunity to be the superintendent is just, for me, what I was hoping for a long time,” he said.
Rushefski told the board that during his time at Old Forge the district balanced a budget that was in the red when he got there, and he knows Jim Thorpe can do the same. The district is currently dealing with a deficit as officials plan the final 2019-20 budget.
He said he prides himself on being available to the public and demanding accountability of himself and his employees.
“I’m looking to work with everyone so we have a transparent system to certainly move Jim Thorpe Area School District forward,” he said.
Rushefski plans to start meeting with staff on Thursday when he visits the Penn-Kidder Campus, but he is still officially closing out his tenure at Old Forge.
He said students will be put first under his administration.
“You’re going to find I love to champion students — I’m a student-first educator,” he said.
Rushefski was one of three finalists for the position, and current superintendent Dr. Brian Gasper was another.
Gasper, who didn’t attend Monday’s meeting, was hired in 2014.
Sheckler said after the meeting that she had no ill will toward Gasper and wished him well in his future endeavors.
Board member Glenn Confer said he thought Gasper and the board had some communication issues, but he favored Rushefski primarily due to his experience.
“I think in time he’ll be a good superintendent,” Confer said of Gasper.