The Saugerties Central School District’s Board of Education opted for consistency in filling the role of interim superintendent last week, with Deputy Superintendent Lawrence Mautone taking on the role. Mautone will also remain deputy superintendent during the district’s search for a permanent replacement for outgoing Superintendent Seth Turner. “I’m very honored that the Board has the trust in me, and the staff has the trust in me to get us through as we do the superintendent search to transition to a new superintendent,” said Mautone.
Trustees approved Mautone as interim superintendent, which will pay him $100 per day on top of his annual deputy superintendent’s salary of $153,000.
Mautone came to the SCSD in 1999 as a social studies teacher at Saugerties High School, also serving as the principal at Mt. Marion Elementary School from 2008-13, when he was hired as the district’s assistant superintendent. Mautone’s title changed heading into the 2016-17 school year when the district created the position of assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction, assessment and data, a position currently held by Darlene Westinghouse.
But while Mautone is technically serving in two different positions, the district is looking into bringing someone in to temporarily help with some of his duties as deputy superintendent, with an eye on making the transition as seamless as possible.
“We’re looking into backfilling my position not with a deputy, but with someone to help out with the day-to-day human resources,” Mautone said. “I’ll be doing some of the deputy roles still as I’m interim superintendent, but we’re going to try to fill out some of that.”
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 was approved in 2015 and would have run through 2020.
The School Board recently approved paying Ulster BOCES $8,900 to help conduct the search for a full-time superintendent, a process they’ve said they plan on doing with great care and attention. Ulster BOCES Superintendent Charles Khoury recently took trustees through the various steps in the process. None of the current members of the School Board were in place when Turner was hired in 2009 to replace former Superintendent Richard Rhau. In addition to relying on the guidance of Ulster BOCES, they’re also planning on holding community forums and surveys, as well as checking in with staff and students.
Mautone said he plans to formally announce his interest in serving as superintendent once the process becomes clearer. In the meantime, he said, he’ll bring familiarity to a district in the midst of administrative change.
“What I offer is consistency in having been a teacher, a principal and a deputy superintendent,” Mautone said. “I think I have a good perspective, and I’ve created a good rapport with the staff and community of Saugerties. It puts me in a position to maintain consistency. And at the same time if there’s something we need to move forward or change, I think I have that trust having been here since 1999.”
The SCSD is also seeking to replace Business Manager Lissa Jilek, who will leave Saugerties in late September for the same role in the Highland Central School District. Jilek’s resignation letter was submitted on June 18, the same day that Turner was formally offered the job of superintendent in Amagansett.
Jilek has been the district’s business manager since 2013, having previously served in the same position in both the Cairo-Durham (2007-13) and Catskill (2000-07) central school districts.
The district is looking to hire an interim business manager while a permanent candidate search is undertaken. Prior hopes of filling with role with a shared services arrangement through Ulster BOCES have been dashed by a lack of availability.
For his part as interim superintendent, Mautone is eager to get rolling.
“I’m very excited to be working with such a great staff, with the community and with the Board,” he said. “I’m going to work very hard in the position while we find a new superintendent.”