Temporary schools superintendent in Saugerties could be insider or outsider

Saugerties is likely to seek to hire an interim schools superintendent to help steer the school district. The search for a permanent replacement for outgoing district administrative leader Seth Turner could take around six months. 

The school board has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, August 1, at which Boces superintendent Charles Khoury is expected to guide the district’s trustees through the various steps in searching for and hiring a new superintendent. None of the current members of the school board were in place when Turner was hired in 2009.

Board president Robert Thomann said a planned talk with the New York State School Boards Association was off. “We were going to have a presentation by NYSSBA about outside agencies, but they couldn’t do it until the end of August,” explained Thomann. “So we’re going to get an overview from Boces about the components of a superintendent search, and at the same time we’re trying to gather prices for what different agencies as well as Boces [for the] cost to search, along with what they provide. I just want everybody to hear what the components of that search will be.”


Thomann said the school board could decide on which areas to focus. “It’s kind of like a menu, and you can pick and choose,” Thomann said. “You can decide how much public involvement you want, for example, and it’s priced accordingly. I just want everybody to be on the same page about what the search might look like, get costs, and we’ll decide probably toward the end of August what we’re going to go with.”

Late last month, Turner announced that he was leaving Saugerties to serve as the superintendent of a small Long Island district for the 2018-19 school year. Previously a teacher with Boces in Plattsburgh, Turner came to Saugerties in 1997 as a special education teacher in the alternative education program at the high school. In 2000 he became an assistant principal before becoming principal at Grant D. Morse Elementary in 2003. Turner’s current contract was approved in 2015 and runs through 2020. 

Thomann said the district received a timeline of how the entire process unfolded from the Highland school district, which hired as superintendent earlier this year. Based on that timeline, trustees concluded that hiring an interim superintendent would take the pressure off during the search for a permanent replacement. 

Thomann declined to offer specifics about whether the school board had already identified potential interim candidates. “I can’t go into a lot of detail with that because it’s a personnel matter,” he said. “But once the superintendent has vacated the position you can appoint an interim. There’s people within and outside the district that would be available to do that.”

The district is also seeking to replace business manager Lissa Jilek, who will leave Saugerties in late September for the same role in the Highland district. Jilek has been the district’s business manager since 2013.

The Saugerties district is hopeful of finding an interim business manager through Boces. Thomann said interim business managers were available in Ulster County, and that Ulster Boces might also work with Sullivan County Boces on that hiring task.