Dr. Coad retiring after 16 years with ARIN
April 20, 2013 10:59 AM
by RANDY WELLS
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Dr. Robert Coad Jr., who for nearly 40 years has helped educate children and provided support for teachers doing the same, will continue to serve others as an American Red Cross volunteer after he retires in December as executive director of Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit 28.

Coad has been ARIN IU 28’s top executive for 16 years and before that was the assistant executive director for 13 years.

Coad is responsible for the administration of the public school agency that provides basic, adult and special education, as well as consultation, staff development, curriculum and technology services for 11 school districts, two technology centers, private schools and community agencies in Armstrong and Indiana counties.

ARIN IU 28’s service area covers approximately 1,600 square miles in Armstrong, Indiana and parts of the surrounding counties and serves about 25,000 school children.

The IU has an annual budget of $25 million and a board of directors composed of one member from each of the 11 constituent school district boards. ARIN has more than 200 employees providing services in the IU’s two-county service area.

Coad began his career in education as a clinical psychologist helping disabled children at the Child Development Center of the Lehigh Valley Association of Retarded Citizens in eastern Pennsylvania. Before coming to ARIN IU 28 in 1984 he spent nine years as an administrator for Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit.

As he approaches retirement, Coad listed as major accomplishments the provision of high-quality services through the hiring and support of many talented staff members at ARIN, saving school districts millions of dollars through ARIN’s purchasing and program consortia, and playing a leadership role in the development of new services and opportunities for learning through technology in the ARIN area and across Pennsylvania.

School districts face uncertain economic times, according to Coad, because they are caught between increasing costs, greater demand for quality services, and citizens who are concerned with rising real estate taxes while state support for public education is inadequate and inequitable.

The superintendents and school directors must deal with cuts in education funding and restrictions on how much tax revenue they can raise, and at the same time are being asked to demonstrate through standardized testing how their students are progressing, he said.

Since the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December, school administrators and directors around the nation have been focusing on ways to improve the security of their schools. But, Coad said, representatives of the member school of IU 28 have been meeting regularly for a number of years to discuss and plan for security and share resources.

“You can’t protect everything all of the time,” Coad said, adding the local school officials in his opinion are taking a “measured approach” to enhancing security.

As part of his IU duties, Coad serves as the trust administrator for the schools’ health insurance trust, which administers $39 million in premiums covering 3,200 public school employees and their families.

He also serves on the boards of the Armstrong County Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Indiana County. He served as president of the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units and of the Southwest Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Coad holds a doctorate in special education from Lehigh University, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Hartford and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lehigh. He is a licensed psychologist and plans to continue to do disaster mental health work as an American Red Cross volunteer and instructor.

He had just completed a course in disaster mental health shortly before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. His first disaster assignment, for a week, was as a Red Cross volunteer at the 9/11 crash site in Somerset County of United Flight 93.

Coad said he announced his planned retirement now to allow time for the ARIN directors to conduct a search for his successor. He anticipates there will be applicants for the executive director’s post from within ARIN and outside, and a new director may be on board to work with him in a transition phase toward the end of the year, he said.

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