New Saugerties superintendent, business manager begin work

Kirk Reinhardt (photo by David Gordon)

The Saugerties schools reorganizational meeting on July 10 proved a largely uneventful affair with no new trustees and no changes in board leadership. Robert Thomann will remain president and James Mooney vice-president of the school board, with Katie Emerson-Hoss, Elena Maskell and Paul VanSchaack retaining their board seats after running unopposed in May. 

The agenda included numerous appointments and designations, and a traditionally long list of media outlets and websites where the district plans to report delayed openings, early dismissals and outright closures. Trustees rolled over existing bylaws and policies, authorized various administrators and support staff to perform the duties of administrators and support staff, and set the district calendar for the 2019-20 school year. 

There were resolutions pertaining to fuel-oil bids (pre-pay price of $2.049 per gallon for 17,000 gallons to Morgan Fuel & Heating) and propane bids (pre-pay price of $1.14 per gallon from Paraco Gas for 22,000 gallons at Mt. Marion Elementary and 1000 gallons at Grant D. Morse Elementary), and a no-charge agreement with Diaz Memorial Ambulance Service to provide non-dedicated service at home football games, with the stipulation that the ambulance will leave the field in the event of an emergency elsewhere in the town. 


The meeting was also officially the first for a pair of new administrators, superintendent Kirk Reinhardt and business manager Jane St. Amour. They began their work in the district July 1, after the district spent the 2018-19 school year with interim administrators in their place. Deputy superintendent Lawrence Mautone served a dual role as interim superintendent during the 2018-19 school year following the departure of superintendent Seth Turner in the summer of 2018. St. Amour was hired as the district’s business manager after the district saw both Warren Donohue and Donald Gottlieb steer its finances in an interim capacity after Lissa Jilek left last summer. 

“It was a good first one,” said Reinhardt after the meeting. 

Another administrative job, deputy superintendent, is still vacant. School officials are still discussing how to shape the deputy superintendent role before deciding whether to post for an opening. “We haven’t had any discussions yet,” said Reinhardt. “That will probably happen during the next executive session, what that might look like. I have some ideas, and I will probably shoot that off to the board so they know what I’m thinking.”

Reinhardt said he’s sought feedback from other school officials as to how best to serve the district. The next deputy superintendent’s title may change as the position’s responsibilities are considered and reconsidered. 

“I’ve had an opportunity to talk to a lot of the central office people to discuss where we’re at and where we’re going,” Reinhardt said. “We’re looking at data a lot more. We’re looking at student success, and that will probably drive that conversation as well. I’m new, the business person is new. So we want to see what are the gaps, and what do we need to do to build our cabinet to be directed toward student success. I think that’s the most important thing, not to do something just to do it but because it’s going to be what’s best for students.”

In mid-June, Thomann said the board was open to working with Reinhardt on filling the vacancy. 

“We’re going to talk with the incoming superintendent, Mr. Reinhardt, and kind of brainstorm to see what he thinks the district’s needs are and what support he needs,” said Thomann. “It might be another deputy, it might be an HR person, like a director of HR. We’re just not sure right now, and we need to talk about it.”

Reinhardt was previously the principal of Kingston High School. Because of his close proximity, he was able easily to meet with other school officials prior to officially becoming superintendent this month. That’s made it easier, he said, to hit the ground running and ensure the summer months are productive before students return to school in early September. 

“The big thing is obviously staffing,” Reinhardt said. “What teacher positions need to be hired, what do we do with central office? That’s the initial thing. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with most of the building leaders, and I will continue to do that as we move forward. One of my goals as to align the four elementary schools.”

On Wednesday, Thomann said he was pleased that Reinhardt was able to connect with board members and district staff ahead of time, and was also impressed with the superintendent’s vision for the Saugerties district. “We had two committee meetings prior to the board meeting last night,” Thomann said. “It was a really great discussion on data driving student achievement. I think you’re going to see some really exciting things in the future.”

Reinhardt hopes to put together a professional development retreat for school administrators at the end of August. “I’d like to kind of go over my vision, what I want to see in the classroom, what kind of data collection I’d like to see,” he said. “I’m excited about that.”

The next meeting of the board of education is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13.