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May 12, 2014

New Albany High School theater director resigns

Gina Cisto cites opportunity for master’s degree

NEW ALBANY — The search for the third theater director at New Albany High School in two years is underway.

The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees accepted the resignation letter of Gina Cisto, director of theater arts at the school, along with the rest of its staffing report at its Monday meeting.

In May 2012, John Zisa was originally hired for the position. About 10 weeks before the following school year began, he backed out of the job and Cisto was hired in July 2012.

Cisto said in an emailed statement that an opportunity to continue her education spurred her resignation.

“I have valued the time I have spent at New Albany High School,” Cisto said in an email. “Working with the students, parents and staff has been an absolute pleasure, and will be a memorable part of my career. I have been offered a rare opportunity to pursue my Master’s of Fine Arts degree, and know this is the best time to move ahead toward something I have always wanted to do. I have received many calls and cards of well wishes — and am appreciative that New Albany has been such a welcoming and supportive environment during my time at [New Albany High School] as Director/Teacher of [Theater].”

The News and Tribune submitted a public records request to the school district for a copy of Cisto’s letter. Bill Briscoe, assistant superintendent, said he was unable to provide it as of press time because he has to consult the district’s legal counsel before he can make a decision. The request is pending.

Rebecca Gardenour, board member,  separated the staffing report from the consent agenda — several routine measures typically accepted all at once.

She said she was concerned about the search for a new director. She said given the program’s pedigree, she hopes the school seeks the best candidates from across the U.S.

“Is there going to be, I hope, a national search, or is Chris Bundy [former theater director at Floyd Central High School] being contacted, hopefully in some way to help in finding a replacement?” Gardenour said. “What’s the plan?”

Louis Jensen, director of high schools, said the job posting is on the district website, but it has put information out elsewhere, too.

“We just posted it on Friday,” Jensen said. “I’ve been in contact with Chris Bundy and we’ll obviously post it on the International Thespian website and statewide thespian website, so we are actively looking.”

He said Bundy will have some involvement in finding candidates, but not in the interviewing or hiring process.

“He’s just going out putting feelers out for people out there he thinks would be interested, based on his knowledge of the program,” Jensen said.

He also said since Bundy has extensive knowledge of the facilities at both schools, as well as their history, he hopes he can come back to serve as a mentor for whoever is selected.

“The building administration would handle the interview,” Jensen said. “What we did last time was we brought two brand-spanking-new people on and contracted Chris Bundy to help mentor them, he took no money from us, no money at all, so I will ask him to do the same for this person.”

The board unanimously approved the staffing report with Cisto’s resignation.


Gardenour also removed approval of architects for two projects — a science lab extension at New Albany High School and kitchen renovation at Mount Tabor Elementary School — for discussion from the consent agenda.

She asked why the administration hadn’t put the project out for bid. Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities, said services such as that don’t have to go through a bid process.

He said the construction projects are set to cost the district about $3.25 million. He said the architectural services are included in that and represent about 5 or 6 percent of that total budget.

Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said the costs for services typically don’t vary much. Construction projects are more likely to go through bidding because of the cost and type of materials they use, among other considerations.

“Could we turn it into some type of selection process?” Snyder asked. “You could, they always are the same, how do you choose one over the other? Services are a very difficult thing to measure quantitatively.”

The board unanimously approved the measure.

In other news at the meeting:

• The board approved the 2015-16 school year calendar. It retains the district’s modified balanced calendar that was employed for this school year.

• The board set the date for a work session to discuss a few items, including the potential frequency change for WNAS, for 4:30 p.m. on June 5 at the Education Support Center on Grant Line Road.

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