Saugerties Central School District (SCSD) Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt will return to his alma mater and former employer this April, briefly as principal at Kingston High School and then as the Kingston City School District’s (KCSD) deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.
Reinhardt’s return to Kingston will come just four years shy of his departure, when he left his position as KHS principal for the superintendent’s role in the SCSD. He arrived in Saugerties close to two years after his predecessor Seth Turner left for a similar position on Long Island.
His second stint as KHS principal will be relatively brief, technically starting on April 1 of this year, with a planned end at the end of the academic year, June 30. The next day he’ll become Kingston’s deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, a position left vacant for nearly two years following the retirement of John Voerg. Reinhardt will earn a salary of $209,000 as deputy superintendent. Reinhardt earned an annual salary of $180,000 in his first year in Saugerties, and is currently earning $189,000 for the 2022-23 school year.
Reinhardt will leave his mark on Saugerties
When he leaves in late March, Reinhardt will have spent nearly four eventful years in Saugerties. 2019-20, his first year as superintendent, was marked by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning, which saw school districts across the country and around the globe scrambling to maintain educational continuity and equity in a time of global turmoil. During his tenure, the SCSD also addressed the economic impact of dwindling enrollment by closing Mt. Marion Elementary, dropping the number of elementary schools in the district from four to three.
He also leaves his mark on Saugerties in other ways, including helping shape a cabinet he said sets up the district for success in years to come, along with addressing academic and equity issues he believes will assure every student has their best chance of success. The graduation rate in Saugerties rose to 90 percent during his time as superintendent.
“We increased our librarians, we brought in literacy coaches, we brought in math coaches, we brought in reading specialists,” Reinhardt said in an interview with Hudson Valley One last week. “We increased drastically the amount of electives at the secondary level. That’s all important.”
Reinhardt said his departure to return to his alma mater will be bittersweet.
“The community’s been amazingly supportive,” he said. “And I told everybody in the district that they can keep my number. I’m available 24/7 to help anybody if it helps students. I’m not going to physically be here, but I’m excited about the trajectory, I’m excited about the student growth. I’m only going to be a phone call away.”
A phone call and a little over 12 miles separate the SCSD administrative offices and those in the KCSD.
Reinhardt’s previous experience
A 1982 graduate of Kingston High, Reinhardt was principal of KHS from 2014-2019. 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 and later received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in mathematics secondary education at SUNY New Paltz. He also earned a School District and Building Leader of Advanced Study from SUNY New Paltz.
Sticking close to home, Reinhardt began his educational career as a math teacher at New Paltz High School in 1991, also tackling the role of varsity football coach from 1996-2000, a period during which the team was the Section 9 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.
Reinhardt will help in the search of a new KHS principal
Reinhardt’s three months back at the helm at Kingston High School will allow Acting Principal Tina Montano to return full time to her role as vice principal of the school. Montano took the reins following the late-December resignation of former Principal Vince DeCicco, who earlier that fall was placed on paid administrative leave after it was revealed that he’d used the term “fudge-packers” in a post on social media site Facebook. “Fudge-packers” is often colloquially seen as a homophobic slur, but in mid-September, DeCicco said he used the term as a slight on the Green Bay Packers football team, longtime rival of the Chicago Bears, and denied intending to offend anyone in the LGBTQ community.
DeCicco was then hired to work in testing, assessments and data for the KCSD’s Teaching and Learning Department through July 28 of this year on a pro-rated annual rate of $115,000, down from his salary as principal of $160,000.
The KCSD has been searching for a full time KHS principal for the past few months, and according to Superintendent Paul Padalino, Reinhardt will help in the selection process, with the hope of having someone in place by July 1.
“We’ve got a handful of good candidates, some internal, some external,” Padalino said. “We’re going to continue to take applications moving forward for a little while longer, and we’ll see what we’ve got.”
The right time to make a move
For Reinhardt, returning to Kingston is the right move at the right time.
“I saw it as a challenge, and I like a challenge,” he said, adding that there will be a sense of familiarity during his three-month return to the role of KHS principal.
“I know probably 80 of the staff, and many of the families,” he said. “And Ms. Montano is a very strong administrator, so I feel it’s going to be fine.”
He also said he’s looking forward to his deputy superintendent role, which will allow him to focus on student achievement.
“I think one of the advantages I bring to the table as a superintendent is the fact that I was in the classroom for over 20 years,” Reinhardt said. “If you truly want to enhance learning, the most important thing you have to do is have highly engaged faculty members with a wonderful curriculum. You combine those two things and student achievement will go up. I love the idea of working with teachers, working with curriculum and improving the learning of our students.”
Padalino said Kingston is looking forward to welcoming Reinhardt back.
“Mr. Reinhardt’s achievements and reputation are great,” Padalino said. “He has the respect and the belief of the faculty, staff and administration here. We know he’s going to come in and work hard. And he knows our district, he knows teaching and learning. And he’s going to bring a whole breadth of knowledge into that department, which is great.”