Her last day as West York School District superintendent is June 30.

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West York Area School District Superintendent Emilie Lonardi is leaving her position after 19 years to head the Downingtown Area School District in Chester County.

“I’m leaving with part of a heavy heart,” Lonardi said in a phone interview. She said it was an “extremely hard” decision to make, but she is “very excited” for her next career venture.

Lonardi was present at Monday night’s Downingtown school board voting meeting, where the motion to hire her was approved 7-2 by the school board. She will replace Downingtown’s retiring superintendent Lawrence J. Mussoline.

“I am very pleased that I will be leaving DASD with the steady leadership hand of Dr. Lonardi at the helm,” Mussoline said in a news release by the school district. “She has accomplished much in her stellar career as a leader among Pennsylvania superintendents.”

“Last night at the meeting, I  met all of the administrators, and they were extremely gracious,” Lonardi said. “I’m very anxious to meet many of the parents and students.”

News of Lonardi’s departure from West York came from the Downingtown School District website as her hiring was announced, ending a nine-month nationwide search for a new superintendent. She will begin her term as superintendent at Downingtown on July 1, and her contract is for five years.

"As we met with Dr. Lonardi, it was clear that our views on education were well matched and that we had a common vision for the future of this district,” Colleen Cranney, Downingtown’s school board president, said in a news release.

“Dr. Lonardi is an outstanding educator with a remarkable breadth of experience.  She has clear ideas on how best to move this district forward,” Cranney continued. “These points made her our clear choice for this most important position.”

Lonardi’s last day as West York’s superintendent will be June 30.

Downingtown, a suburb of Philadelphia, is the eighth-largest school district in Pennsylvania with more than 12,000 students, according to Lonardi.

Lonardi joined the West York School District in 1996 as the district assistant superintendent before becoming superintendent two years later.

In 2014, Lonardi received the Superintendent of the Year award from the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.

Reach Junior Gonzalez by emailing him at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com and follow him on Twitter @EducationYD.

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