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East Chicago Central JROTC press conference

School City of East Chicago superintendent Paige McNulty speaks at a press conference introducing a JROTC program earlier this month at East Chicago Central High School.

The East Chicago School Board appointed Central High School principal Shaunna Finley as the new assistant superintendent for the school corporation.

In turn, the board named the Block Middle School Principal Dee Etta Wright as the new high school principal. That brings Wright back to her home school where she taught for 25 years before becoming the middle school principal. 

The moves are effective July 1. Finley will begin her new role at a salary of $120,000, and Wright will earn $105,000 as principal at Central.

It leaves Block without a principal, something school leaders said they hope to fill shortly.

East Chicago School Board President Vanessa Hernandez-Orange said school Superintendent Paige McNulty has been looking for an assistant superintendent for two years.

"She felt the best choice was Dr. Finley and that this administrative team would be able to move the district forward. She presented this to us at an executive session on Tuesday," Hernandez-Orange said.

"Not everyone was sure this was the right choice. It was a difficult decision. The vote was three yes, one no and one abstention regarding Dr. Finley.

"Dr. Finley has come up with some good programs at Central and I'm not sure that everyone in the community is aware of them."

Hernandez-Orange, Jesse Gomez and Joel Rodriguez voted in favor of the recommendation. Board member Dwayne Rancifer Jr. voted no and Stacy Winfield abstained.

The vote to move Wright into the position as Central High School principal was unanimous.

"My personal outlook is that Dee Etta has been with the district more than 20 years and the teachers respect her," Hernandez-Orange said.

"She has three years under her belt as the principal at Block and she previously taught at Central. I know the direction that Ms. Wright will take us in is the right one. She has a good connection with the community.

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"We're going to try and fill the vacancy at Block as quickly as possible. They will be posting that position today. We will look within the district also. Having things in limbo is not good. We want to improve the school grade and move the district forward."

McNulty said she is excited to have Finley join the central office administrative team.

"She was named District 1 principal of the year," McNulty said. "She also was instrumental in getting the new JROTC program established at the high school. She was able to bring in a Lilly grant and a Notre Dame grant. I'm interested in having her do many of those same things for the corporation. Dee Etta will be moving back to the school where she taught for 25 years, and we already have a couple of prospects for the Block position."

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.