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Smith Supports Personnel Moves in Pelham Schools

PELHAM, N.Y. – The newest Pelham Board of Education member, Madeline Smith , supports the recent decisions made by the board in hiring Charlie Wilson as interim superintendent to replace the retiring Dennis Lauro in January and the appointment of Richard Limato as principal of Prospect Hill Elementary.

“He’s highly qualified and well respected by the community,” Smith said of Wilson, who was announced as the board's choice on Monday, May 21. “For an interim position, it’s useful to have found someone who’s familiar with our community and our school system and will therefore be better equipped to jump right in and make a difference.”

Wilson served the Pelham community in education for four decades, and between 1996 and 2008, he was a social studies teacher, a guidance counselor and the superintendent.

Lauro announced his retirement on April 17, and some board members and parents of Pelham students were dismayed by the board’s quick choice of his interim replacement. Board President Robert Eicher said Wilson would have taken a job in Maine if Pelham had not secured his services.

Smith is expecting a “more lengthy process” when it comes to hiring a permanent superintendent.

“I look forward to a process that includes a significant amount of input from the community, a thorough search and the examination of many qualified candidates in order to find the best fit for our school district,” said Smith, who has a son in first grade at Colonial Elementary and a daughter in college.

Michael Recca, the other newly elected trustee, voiced his approval of the Wilson decision during a board meeting and also said he anticipates a longer process.

The newest trustee also voiced her approval of Limato's replacing outgoing Prospect Hill Principal Robert Roelle , who will take over at Pelham Middle School for the retiring Joseph Longobardi.

“The administration considered shuffling the principals around, but after careful consideration, they came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of all the elementary schools to appoint Dr. Limato to Prospect Hill,” Smith said. She added that she thought he would do a “terrific job.”

Limato currently serves as the director of elementary education, but that position was cut during the budget process. He had previously worked as the Prospect Hill principal.

Smith said that by her understanding, Limato’s appointment “made the most sense” after Lauro spoke to each of the elementary school principals and discussed the work needed at each of the schools and their qualifications. The other principals will remain at their current schools.

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