Lyle likely to hire former Alden super

Published 7:59 am Sunday, February 26, 2012

LYLE — Lyle school board members said they lucked out Thursday night.

The district will get an interim superintendent without much negotiation as Joe Guanella all but accepted the job at the board’s special session meeting Thursday.

“He is what we wanted, no doubt about it,” board chairman Jerry Sampson said. “It feels like he fits into our school.”

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Board members were impressed with Guanella’s interview, where he stressed his kids-first mentality, touted his experience in education and as a business owner, and emphasized a no-surprises approach in dealing with students, staff and parents.

Guanella is the former superintendent of Alden-Conger School. He resigned last May after serving eight years as the district’s head. He has lived in Alden since 1962, where he was a member of the school board for 20 years and also took the superintendent job about 20 years after his father served as Alden-Conger superintendent.

Guanella described his career experiences as moving every seven years. He started out as a teacher, left education to work in the retail sector, then owned businesses in Minneapolis and Chicago before returning to the district.

Guanella emphasized holding expectations for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect, and went through his no-surprises policy where he explains to students the expectations they must abide by. His no-nonsense-yet-calm approach in dealing with people won over board members and local residents alike.

“It’s great that he’d do it,” Gene Block, former Lyle School transportation director told board members.

Guanella agreed to the terms set in Superintendent Jim Dusso’s contract provided there weren’t any surprise clauses, and said he could start Thursday, March 1. The news came as a relief to board members, who expressed concern he would ask for more money than was in their budget. About $33-$36,000 is left in the district’s budget for a superintendent salary, according to board member Carl Truckenmiller.

Yet Guanella expressed concern over budgetary timelines, asking the board questions about the district’s finances, their current year budget and what work has been done on next year’s budget plans. Board members couldn’t answer most of the questions, though some recalled seeing a budget six months ago after the district hired an outside financial service to act as business manager.

Guanella wasn’t concerned about finishing the district’s budget reports by July, however. He said he was excited to help students once more and had heard plenty of good things about the district. Though he heard a few things about the district’s recent troubles, he said he hadn’t paid much attention to the media and hoped to apply the same things that worked at Alden-Conger to Lyle School.

“Anything I can do to help,” he said.

The board is expected to approve Guanella’s contract at a special session meeting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. They will most likely cancel next Tuesday’s special session meeting.