Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy soon will start looking for its fourth principal since it opened in August 1999. The school’s board of directors has decided not to renew the contract of its third principal, Nels Pitotti.
Joe Fabiano, chairman of the board that oversees the public school, said Pitotti was hired for a transition period of three to five years.
“The school will be facing a different set of challenges in the future, not the least of which is continued enrollment along with the funding to support capital improvement projects,” Pitotti said. “In our best estimate we needed a different set of profile backgrounds to match those challenges of the future, particularly somebody with a very strong and experienced business background.”
The board also will look for someone who is “committed to the absolute priority and importance of higher education, and someone who shares the philosophy that the charter school is granted on and maintains the tradition for.”
Pitotti, 62, said he wasn’t told why the board decided to let him go, and he didn’t want to know specifics.
“I’m not exactly happy. I’ve never been fired before,” he said.
But he added that he has a lot of confidence in the board and holds no animosity against its members.
“The school is on a successful mission,” Pitotti said. “I think we’ve done things real well.”
Fabiano listed some of the school’s accomplishments under Pitotti, including doubling enrollment to about 470 students, standardized test scores above state and national averages, the addition of sports and advanced placement courses, and expanded facilities. This summer the school plans to build four new classrooms and remodel three science labs.
Part of the Coeur d’Alene School District but funded directly by the state, the charter school was one of the first in Idaho. It now serves students in grades 6 through 12 and typically has a waiting list for enrollment.
The school has 25 teachers and a student-teacher class ratio of 19-1.
Pitotti, whose certification is in biology and chemistry, said that teaching remains his first love and that he’d consider returning to the classroom. The board offered him a teaching post, but the school has no openings at present, he added.
Pitotti previously spent 29 years teaching in Washington, including 15 years at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley. He was an administrator at Valley Christian School before that.
The board appointed Vice Principal Dan Nicklay as interim principal and plans to conduct a national search to replace Pitotti.