Search for new Saugerties superintendent is on schedule

Everything is on schedule. The search for a superintendent for the Saugerties schools is in its interview phase this week. As of press time, it was unclear how many candidates would participate.

“We’ve started interviews this week,” said Ulster BOCES superintendent Charles Khoury, hired to help direct the search. The board was still determining how many candidates from the nearly 20 applicants will be interviewed. “As they pick out candidates,” Khoury said, “I invite them in.”

Khoury gave the school board a brief update during a special meeting on Tuesday, January 8. “We’re moving ahead in the process,” Khoury said. “We’ll have interviews, probably multiple rounds. We’re still working on scheduling. We’re in good shape. We’re right on target, assuming we don’t get snow. If our schedules stay, we’re right on target.”

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He said there was a very strong applicant pool.

Khoury has done reference checks and preliminary interview information on the candidates, and assembled a loose rank ordering of the candidates based on their professional strengths along with the characteristics identified by the community during a public survey completed by over 400 people. The survey included questions about past experience in areas like working in a high-performing school district, a socio-economically diverse district, capital projects, special and alternative education, gifted education, and strategic planning. Skills such as public speaking, labor relations, school finance, coordinating special education programs, and both short- and long-range educational planning were considered. 

Beyond the professional criteria, the public was also asked to consider a candidate’s personal characteristics and preferences. Did they feel living in or near Saugerties was important? How visible in the community did they feel a superintendent should be? Did the candidate have a sense of humor and exhibit wisdom or compassion?

The application page is still available to review. The posting indicates an anticipated starting salary range between $170,000 to $195,000 based on experience and training. The criteria on the open call indicates a wide range of qualifications for candidates to consider.

Final interviews are anticipated for the week of February 11. First-round interviews are likely to cover as many as three candidates a night, with the list getting smaller round by round. The timeline anticipates the district is expected to make an offer to its top choice on March 12. The district wants a July 1 start date, so the successful applicant working elsewhere will give notice that they’re not continuing their employment by May 1. To allow for that to happen, the school board would have to make an appointment some time in April. The month between the anticipated March 12 offer and the April appointment allows for contract negotiations. 

The school board will also be focusing around that time on constructing its proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year. A budget workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19. A budget adoption vote is expected April 9 they expect to vote on adopting the budget. By the time the spending plan goes to the public on May 21, the next superintendent will have been chosen. 

Interim superintendent Lawrence Mautone is among the applicants. He has been deputy superintendent in Saugerties for the past five years. He’s served as interim superintendent since late September, when former superintendent Seth Turner left the district.

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 and in 2003 principal at Grant D. Morse Elementary in 2003. Turner became superintendent in 2009 following the retirement of Richard Rhau. Turner’s most recent contract with the district was approved in 2015 and would have run through 2020.

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