Kirk Reinhardt will take the reins next month as the new Saugerties Central School District superintendent, bringing a sense of permanence to an administration that has been relatively stable during the interim after the departure of the previous superintendent, Seth Turner. This week, Reinhardt spoke to Saugerties Times about his hopes and goals for the SCSD.
“It’s a great small-knit community,” said Reinhardt of Saugerties. “I grew up here (in Kingston) so I know the community. I’ve been at Cantine Field, I’ve been at Kiwanis, I’ve been at the Garlic Festival. It’s a great little community.”
Reinhardt, currently the principal at Kingston High School, was appointed by the SCSD Board of Education in mid-March following an exhaustive search that stretched back into late summer 2017 when then-Superintendent Seth Turner announced his plans to move on to a similar position on Long Island.
Reinhardt will earn an annual salary of $180,000 over the course of his three-year contract, which will see him officially take the reins of the district on July 1. Reinhardt, a 1982 graduate of Kingston High, has been principal of that school since 2014. After high school, Reinhardt served in the United States Army for three years and was a non-commissioned officer in the New York Army National Guard for 17 years. He served in Iraq and received the Bronze Star, awarded for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
Reinhardt graduated from SUNY Ulster in 1987, then received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in mathematics secondary education at SUNY New Paltz. Later, he earned a School District and Building Leader of Advanced Study degree from SUNY New Paltz.
Sticking close to home, Reinhardt began his educational career as a math teacher at New Paltz High School in 1991, while also tackling the role of varsity football coach from 1996-2000, a period during which the team was the Section IX runner up on two occasions.
Reinhardt arrived in Kingston in 2001 as a physics teacher, eventually becoming the district’s director of math, science and technology in 2012. He said his previous experiences, especially those over the past several years, will be crucial in guiding his work in Saugerties.
“During the interview process it was really clear that they were looking to do a lot of things we’ve been doing here at Kingston (High School), and that kind of excited me to do it at a district level,” Reinhardt said. “At the high school level we’ve done a lot with our graduation rates. We’ve done a lot with our partnership with SUNY Ulster. We’ve increased our collegian program, we’ve increased our AP classes. And we’ve brought up all of our subgroup graduation rates. For Saugerties High School, that’s very exciting.”
Reinhardt also has plans for the lower schools as well, which he’s familiar with from his time as Kingston’s director of math, science and technology.
“We did a lot of work aligning curriculums and common assessments for the elementary schools,” Reinhardt said. “One of the things we discussed (during the interview process) was that they have four elementary schools, and they want to get them all on the same sheet of music so that when students enter junior high everybody is prepared for the rigors of junior high and high school. When I was first the director, we still had nine or 10 elementary schools here (in Kingston). I’m really excited about that. I love curriculum work. I love working with teachers. So I’m excited about that opportunity as well. You have to have K-12 vision.”
Reinhardt said he’s had opportunities to familiarize himself with the SCSD ahead of taking over as superintendent thanks to his living and working such a short distance away. He’s met with numerous administrators, including Lawrence Mautone, the district’s deputy superintendent who has served as interim superintendent since Turner’s departure.
“I’ve been able to attend (School) Board meetings,” said Reinhardt. “I was fortunate that we had give-back snow days, and the two calendars were not exact. So there were days when I was off that Saugerties was in session. I was able to visit all four elementary schools while kids were there, and I met all four elementary school principals. And I know (Saugerties High School Principal) Tom Averill just from being a fellow principal. The learning curve has been reduced because I’ve had the opportunity to attend things and actually be on site. They’re on the cusp of change, and I’ve had the advantage of being involved in those changes here (in Kingston). And it’s a lot easier when people have seen things happening next door.”
Reinhardt said leaving Kingston will be bittersweet.
“One of the things I pride myself in is being a community member,” Reinhardt said. “I live here, I shop here, I’m very visible in the community and in the high school. It’s tough, because I care about what I do here.”
He said he plans to continue that practice once he comes to Saugerties, and will attend various events, games and public meetings in the SCSD as he’s always done in the KCSD. There will be occasional moments, Reinhardt admits, where his loyalties will be stretched, as when the Saugerties High School varsity football team visits Dietz Stadium to play the Kingston Tigers on Friday, September 27.
“That’s going to be tough,” Reinhardt said. “For the first time in 55 years I may have to root against Kingston. I just appreciate watching the kids compete. I get to as many events as I can, and I enjoy seeing the kids have those experiences.”