Lake Placid Elementary School principal hired

LAKE PLACID – The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education hired Brian Latella, a teacher from central New York, to be the new elementary school principal at its meeting Thursday night.

Latella has been a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and a championship-winning soccer coach at Hamilton Central School for more than 10 years. He and his wife, Melissa, were at the meeting with smiles on their faces.

The board approved Latella’s three-year probationary appointment to run through June 30, 2016. He is set to make $80,000 a year.

“I’m very excited to recommend tonight’s appointment,” new district Superintendent Roger Catania told the school board.

He said the choice was made after a thorough review process.

Latella will replace Javier Perez, who announced in April that he’ll leave at the end of this school year to become high school principal in the neighboring AuSable Valley Central School District.

Board member Herb Stoerr abstained from voting to appoint Latella, even though he was on the interviewing committee, was one of the ones to recommend him for the position and called him “a wonderful addition to our school.” The reason is that, although the board voted to appoint the principal, it wasn’t ready to approve his contract yet, and Stoerr said he believes the board should have a contract in place before making the appointment.

“I am very surprised that we don’t see the contract in front of us,” Stoerr said. “If the contract doesn’t make any sense to us, where do we go from there?”

Board President Mary Dietrich said that’s the same process the board has used for hiring the other two school principals it hired earlier this year, and it’s been used in the past. The contract wasn’t ready to go, but the board wanted to appoint Latella in time for him to begin on July 1, she said.

Board member John Hopkinson said he could see where Stoerr is coming from, and ideally he’d like to see a contract in place before appointing someone as well. But he voted in favor of the appointment, as did the rest of the board.

“Brian, we’re all really excited to have you here,” Dietrich told Latella at the end of the meeting.

School board member appointed

The board also voted unanimously to appoint Jennifer Tufano to the board. Board member Martha Stahl plans to move away, so she resigned as of the end of June. Tufano’s term will finish out Stahl’s, running from July 1 to the 2014 school board election.

Tufano ran an unsuccessful bid for the school board in its May election, losing by only a few votes to Hopkinson and incumbent Rick Preston.

At a board meeting earlier this month, Stoerr suggested the board hold interviews to access potential candidates to appoint to the board, but other board members said they preferred appointing Tufano.

She is set to take the oath of office at the next school board meeting, scheduled for July 2.

Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or