UPPER CHICHESTER>> Upper Darby School District Superintendent Dan Nerelli will no longer be “royal” after being appointed the top educator of Chichester School District.
The Chichester School Board Tuesday night voted 7-2 to appoint Nerelli as their new superintendent to succeed Kathleen Sherman, who is retiring at the end of the month following 13 years with the district, the last four as superintendent.
Nerelli was awarded a four-year contract with a starting salary of $210,000 that will begin on Sept. 11, 2018 and conclude Sept. 10, 2022. The pay is $20,000 over what Upper Darby offered him with his first contract as superintendent that started in Feb. 2017.
Board Director Georgianna Montella publicly said before the vote that she was not against Nerelli, but against the contract itself. She said after the meeting she had problems with a retirement benefit and the tuition reimbursement provision. Director David Bartholf did not wish to elaborate on his no vote.
Nerelli thanked the board for approving him to the position.
“I’m leaving behind a place where I have spent sixteen years, so I have a long history there.” said Nerelli. “I’m looking to build a very long history here in this wonderful school district with some great administrators that I’ve heard about.
“I can’t wait to get started and start developing those relationships that are key with staff, students, parents and members of this community. I want to thank you for this opportunity and I’m not going to let anybody down in this room.”
As superintendents, Sherman said she had worked with Nerelli and was thrilled with his appointment.
“I feel blessed that I can turn the reigns over to somebody like Dan,” she said. Sherman added that the district is built on relationships and that he will take pleasure in knowing the staff, students, and community in a way that may not have been afforded to him in Upper Darby. “There’s a saying that when you join Chichester, you join a Chi Family.”
Nerelli said he didn’t want to leave Upper Darby, that he in fact loves it there, but having time to connect with his family – especially his two young kids Chase and Ella - and the school community was a factor.
“I felt bad that I couldn’t attend so many events that I wanted to,” he said of his time in Upper Darby. “Here, I have the opportunity to go home, maybe catch a kid’s event and come back here. It’s the flexibility.
“It’s going to be a new experience being in a smaller district, whether that turns out to be a benefit or not was not the sole reason. Really, it’s the proximity (to home) and the good reputation from friends.”
After working in a district with 12,000 students and an over $200 million budget to head a district with approximately 3,500 students and a budget of $75.9 million, Nerelli said he looks forward to bringing his leadership style to the district, even on a smaller scale.
“I’m making sure that I’m serving the students and the families to the best of my ability,” he said, saying he wants to start his tenure by knowing the district, listening to staff and wanting to ensure equity throughout. “The first 90 days is a lot of listening and learning, digesting it, and from my experience know what I can provide and support and at the same time building a team and utilizing their strengths.”
Nerelli has over 20 years of experience as an educator. He spent seven years at Upper Darby before moving to a position in the Lower Merion school district and then coming back to Upper Darby in 2009 to serve as an assistant superintendent for eight years. Nerelli was appointed interim superintendent in late summer 2016 following the retirement of Rick Dunlap, Jr. before his official appointment to the position early last year.
He will serve as Upper Darby’s superintendent until Sept. 10. The school board will consider options on how to replace him at a June 21 meeting.
The Chichester School Board at the same meeting named Gregory Puckett as interim superintendent from July 1 to Sept. 10.