Clock’s ticking on finding new principals for Kingston schools

The Kingston City School District is still searching for a pair of principals to fill vacancies, with the leaders of both Kingston High School and George Washington Elementary School planning to step down at the end of the current academic year.

Kingston High School Principal Kirk Reinhardt last month was appointed superintendent of the Saugerties Central School District, a job he’ll officially begin on July 1. Reinhardt will earn an annual salary of $180,000 over the course of his three-year contract. Reinhardt, a 1982 graduate of Kingston High, has been principal of the school since 2014 following the departure of Adrian Manuel. Reinhardt was officially appointed by the Saugerties Central School District board during a meeting last month, emerging as the district’s choice from four finalists after a six-month search led by Ulster BOCES Superintendent Charles Khoury and shaped by feedback gleaned from a community survey, a public forum, and several focus groups which included parents, teachers and administrators.

“The process on getting hired was hard work, but very professional,” said Reinhardt in a press release. “It’s been an amazing journey, and I look forward to this opportunity.”

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Reinhardt has served as KHS principal during the ongoing $137 million Second Century renovation project, which is reconfiguring the Broadway campus for the 21st century. Reinhardt’s current annual salary as KHS principal is $137,725.

George Washington, the district’s Montessori school, will lose its longtime leader at the end of June when Valerie Hannum retires. Hannum has been the principal at George Washington since it introduced the Montessori program in September 2008. Her current annual salary is $180,000.

KCSD officials last updated the dual principal search at the March 27 school board meeting. At the time, Superintendent Paul Padalino said the George Washington search was further along than the Kingston High search because Hannum’s planned retirement had been brought to the district sooner; school officials only learned of Reinhardt’s departure two weeks earlier. 

Padalino said the KHS search would be led by Mary Beth Bonville, the district’s assistant superintendent for secondary education, and would be guided by discussions with leadership teams at the high school and parents.

“We’re going to look locally, but we’re also going to cast our net in a wide way,” Padalino said. “It’s a very important position, some very big shoes to fill and hopefully we’ll find the right leader like we did the last time.”

Of the search for the next GW principal, Padalino said that while the process was further along than the KHS search, it was perhaps more deliberate because of the need to not only find a suitable building leader, but also one with expertise in the Montessori method. First developed in the late 19th century by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, the Montessori method focuses on a child’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive education by allowing for greater student choice than more typical educational approaches.

Padalino said that of the roughly 40 applications the district received for the George Washington posting, four were deemed worthy of closer examination. He added that the posting was still active in numerous places. The search is being led by Stacia Felicello, the district’s assistant superintendent for elementary education. 

“We did get some good candidates already, but we’re hoping to get some more from a broader area and start the interview process,” Padalino said.

Padalino said that the hiring process for each position would be deliberate to ensure they make the best choice while also being mindful of the need to have the new principals in place before the 2019-20 school year officially begins on Monday, July 1.

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