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Sapienza to Stay on as Interim PVMHS Principal for Year

District needs waiver from state on critical staff shortage in order to hire back Sapienza, who is retiring.

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Interim Superintendent Herb Levine announced at Tuesday night's School Commmittee meeting that he has chosen to hire the retiring educator to stay one more year at the high school, just in an interim capacity. Levine said that's also assuming state education officials approve a waiver for a critical shortage in available staff for the job, but he's confident that approval will come through.

Levine noted the for a permanent position to replace Sapienza contained some talented educators, but no one he felt was "ready to take on a high school of this size at this time in their careers."

The second round, which was expressly for an interim yearlong position, yielded no better results, Levine said -- none of the candidates (all retired educators) who applied then had ever been a high school principal before. He said there were some former assistant principals and other administrators in the mix.

"Ed expressed a desire to stay," Levine said.

Sapienza will officially retire June 30 and then resume his duties at the helm of , where he has spent 39 years, Aug. 1. For the month of July, Assistant Principal Eric Buckley will be in charge.

Levine said Sapienza will receive the same pay he does now, albeit on a per diem basis. Sapienza earned $126,217 in 2011, but his salary was slightly lower than that at $122,881.

School Committee members Tuesday night did not offer any commentary on the decision. They have all praised Sapienza for his work at the high school over the years.

Sapienza, a North Reading resident, has been the school principal since 2007. He began his career at Peabody High in 1971 as a substitute teacher, covering everything from home economics and math to science to physical education. And then with a short interval at Hull High School for a year, he returned to Peabody for a full-time teaching job.

Sapienza went on to coach sports, teach computer science and serve as president of the teachers' union in Peabody prior to becoming assistant principal and then principal.

Levine told Peabody Patch after the meeting that he also sees Sapienza working well with incoming Superintendent Joe Mastrocola -- the two have done so before when Mastrocola was in Peabody.

Levine reiterated that he believes Peabody High is a challenging environment for an educator, both simply because of its size and diverse socioeconomic makeup, and Sapienza has had success his past five years as principal.

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