The Kingston school board voted to extend Superintendent Paul Padalino’s contract through the 2021-22 school year last month, ensuring he’ll still be at the helm at the completion of the $137.5 million Kingston High School Second Century renovation plan, and giving him as close to a steady gig as public school administrators seem to get.
“The average superintendent’s lifespan, especially in a city school district is three-and-a-half years, and I’ve already outlived that,” said Padalino last week. He was hired in November 2011 with a salary of $179,500, significantly lower than the $203,000 his predecessor, Gerard Gretzinger, was signed on for in his final year. Padalino’s salary for 2017-18 is $199,000, and it will increase to $206,000 for 2018-19, $213,000 for 2019-20, $221,500 for 2020-21, and $230,000 for 2021-22.
Padalino said he was pleased the school board felt he’d made a positive difference in the district.
“It’s much different than being a teacher, or even being a principal,” he said. “There’s no tenure. After your contract is up they’re happy or they’re not, and in some districts it’s a revolving chair. When I came to Kingston, I saw this as a place that I would like to spend a lot of my career. It’s the right size, the right population, the right kind of work that I’d like to be doing. In a perfect world, I’d say, yeah, I’d like to be here for a long time. A lot of things circumstances can change that. Sometimes a board election can change that.”
In fact, much of the board that hired Padalino is still in place.
“I think we’ve reached a milestone today with Dr. Padalino’s contract,” said Trustee James Michael during the July 19 meeting where the contract extension was announced to applause. “I was on the interviewing committee six years ago, and I said we need a new superintendent because the district was in such big trouble. Since he has decided to come on, he has shown a lot of leadership and guidance in our district.”
Padalino arrived in the district in a period of transition, beginning with the closure of four of its 11 elementary schools over his first two years on the job in a comprehensive “rightsizing” plan to address a dwindling student population. The graduation rate has risen by 12.5 percent in the five years since Padalino joined the district, the KHS Second Century project is currently ahead of schedule and under budget, and the district’s patience in turning down a $1 million offer last year for the Cioni Building that serves as its current administrative headquarters eventually led to an offer of $4.2 million several weeks ago. The administration will move into the former Frank L. Meagher Elementary School, along with a planned pre-kindergarten hub.
“I had indicated to the board that we had a bunch of irons on the fire, and I would really like to be here to see them through,” he said. “It was humbling and a nice thing to have them come back with that offer. The Kingston High School project finishing up in the next five years, opening up Meagher with the pre-K program, those are things I consider my life’s work. It probably wouldn’t have been a good feeling for me to see someone else cut the ribbon when we open Kingston High School a few years from now. I didn’t want to see somebody else moving into the superintendent’s office in Meagher or saying hello to those first 4-year-olds who come in to the pre-K program. I’m honored and happy to have that opportunity.”
Padalino came to Kingston from the Watervliet School District outside of Albany, where he served as superintendent. Previously, he was principal and associate principal at Hudson High School, and was a social studies and summer school teacher in Troy.
The superintendent said his successes in the KCSD have been possible because of the quality and consistency of those he’s had the chance to work with.
“It’s nice to get that vote of confidence and also the opportunity to get to work here and work with the people that I’ve come to know in the last five years as great people who are looking out for kids,” he said. “From every part of the organization all the way up to the Board, this has been a great district to work with. I think we’ve accomplished a lot. What’s served us well here in Kingston is looking at the longevity of our board members and our union leaders. Most of them are the same people I’ve been working with since I got here. It’s nice to have that consistency, and I think that has a lot to do with the progress we’ve been making. You establish relationships and gain trust.”