Interim superintendent likely for Saugerties schools

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

The Saugerties school board held a special meeting this week to discuss the parameters of its search for a new superintendent to replace Seth Turner, who will leave at the end of September for a similar job on Long Island. Discussed was whether the district should use Ulster Boces to help conduct the search at cost of $8900. A new superintendent isn’t likely to join the district until June 2019.

Some trustees hadn’t had an opportunity to review the search process. The trustees tabled the matter until their next meeting on August 28. Trustees are likely to enlist the aid of Ulster Boces in the superintendent search at that meeting.

Recently, Ulster Boces superintendent Charles Khoury went through the various steps in the process of 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 to replace former superintendent Richard Rhau. Board president Robert Thomann said a planned talk with the New York State School Boards Association would have been too close to Turner’s late-September departure date to be helpful.


In late June, Turner announced that he was leaving Saugerties to serve as the superintendent of the Amagansett Union Free School District for the 2018-19 school year. Amagansett is a single-school district with fewer than 100 students in grades K-5. Amagansett students move into the East Hampton Union Free School District for middle and high school.

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, approved in 2015, runs through 2020.

Thomann declined to offer specifics about whether the school board had already identified potential interim candidates. The SCSD is also seeking to replace business manager Lissa Jilek, who will leave Saugerties in late September for the same role in Highland.

With the superintendent search likely to stretch well into 2019, the school board will likely hire an interim superintendent to bridge the gap between Turner’s departure and the arrival of a permanent district steward.

The board’s president made it clear that the public’s point of view will be crucial. “There would be meetings with the community to get their input on the qualities that they would like to see in a superintendent,” Thomann said. “Realistically we would be looking at hiring a candidate in June 2019.”

– Crispin Kott