Dr. Nick Trombetta may be stepping down from his post as CEO of PA Cyber, but he will "remain a powerful, potent force for education” and an advocate for Midland and school choice.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 9:31 pm, Mon May 14, 2012.
By Patrick O’Shea Calkins Media Beaver County Times EllwoodCityLedger.com
Nick Trombetta leaves his role as chief executive officer of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School next month, but the school he founded and Trombetta are far from done, colleagues say.
Trombetta, 57, of Liverpool Township, Ohio, announced Thursday that he would resign as CEO of the Midland-based cyber charter school on June 30. He is recommending that the school’s board of directors name Michael Conti, an original member of the school’s administrative team, as interim CEO at a May 21 board meeting.
Trombetta, who formed the cyber school in 2000, also started the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland and the National Network of Digital Schools, from which he resigned from in 2007. His efforts revitalized Midland, which was a dying former steel town.
After 36 years as an educator, 17 of them with Midland area schools, Trombetta said Thursday he wanted to take on other endeavors such as writing and speaking in support of school choice. He did not mention any particular goals.
PA Cyber officials said they expect more great things to come from Trombetta.
Conti said Trombetta transformed a community and transformed national education in the last decade.
“I’ve never worked for anyone who inspires the passion he does,” he said.
Stephen Catanzarite, managing director of Midland’s Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center — the $28 million building that opened in 2006 and was also the brainchild of Trombetta — said he fully expects Trombetta to continue advocating for cyber schools and advancements in education.
“This is not the end (for Trombetta), it is just the beginning of a new chapter,” he said. “I expect he will remain a powerful, potent force for education.”
Even Freedom Area Superintendent Ron Sofo, who often has been positioned as an opponent of Trombetta on cyber charter school funding, had praise for Trombetta, whom he called “an innovator in public education.”
Sofo, who is leaving himself at the end of the school year to become CEO of City Charter School in Pittsburgh, said his complaints never were with Trombetta or the cyber charter school. He said the state’s method for funding cyber schools is flawed, and he will continue to fight that situation.
However, Sofo said, “Nick did a great job to keep Midland afloat and to grow opportunities for his students.”
Despite his many accomplishments in creating new educational entities in Midland — PA Cyber, the National Network of Digital Schools, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School — Trombetta was not without his critics, many of whom questioned the interconnection among those groups and the
funding sources used to create them.
There were reports several years ago of a state grand jury investigation, but no indictment came from the proceedings.
Trombetta maintained that his vision of a new education model was always focused on better opportunities for students. Conti said that is what motivated Trombetta every step of the way.
“He has always strived to give children every option, to give them choices,” he said.
Catanzarite said that despite Trombetta being what he called a “change agent,” changing the way traditional educational establishments operate, Trombetta always valued children above the buildings, computers and education innovations.
“His living legacy is the students’ and parents’ lives that have changed because of his influence,” Catanzarite said. “Students who are just now starting to go out into the world and make their mark.”