Search On for Superintendent

    Raymond Gualtieri has only one week left as superintendent of the East Hampton School District, and the school board has been on active duty searching for an interim replacement. The appointment would last for one year.
    According to Patricia Hope, a new member of the school board who was on the high school faculty for many years, the board has finished interviewing candidates who are employed by the district, as well as George Aman, a board member who was recently elected its vice chairman. Dr. Aman is a former superintendent of the Amagansett School District and had been a math teacher. The board will start looking at candidates from beyond the district next week.
    “We’ve had very good interviews,” Jacqueline Lowey, another new board member, said yesterday. “I am very encouraged about the prospects of getting a great superintendent.”
    Julia Kayser, an East Hampton resident who attended the meeting, wanted to make “very sure” that the board did not intend to provide the interim replacement with “a car, a home, gas money,” or other material items, which apparently have been part of Dr. Gualtieri’s contract.
    “Absolutely not,” Laura Anker Grossman, the board president, said.
    The next school board meeting is on Aug. 2. The board hopes to have chosen an interim superintendent by then, and to be able to announce who it is.
    Another matter concerning the replacement of a district employee engaged the board at Tuesday’s meeting, as did the cost of student meals, among other matters.
    Geri Fromm, the district’s head clerk for 20 years, plans to leave on Sept. 19.
    The superintendent’s recommendation is that the board abolish the position of head clerk and hire a principal clerk instead.
    Head and principal clerk are Civil Service categories. Since this was the first that the board had heard of the superintendent’s recommendation, there was some head-scratching as to the difference, and a decision on it was postponed.
    “Obviously, no one can do it in the manner that Geri has,” Ms. Grossman  said. Asked for an opinion, Adam Fine, the high school principal, said he would want to “take a look at the position, and farm out some of her work to other clerks.” He added that he would prefer “hiring from inside.”
    Board members agreed that expecting someone, even someone who is already on the staff, to jump into Ms. Fromm’s job and have similar knowledge of the district would be next to impossible.
    The difference between head clerk and principal clerk is that a principal  clerk has a lower salary and fewer job duties. But even after Kerri Stevens, the district clerk, left the room and brought back Civil Service information, there was plenty of perplexity.
    “I’m all about saving money but I just want to make sure that this position is filled correctly,” Alison Anderson, a board member, said.
    Ms. Hope had something else to add to the discussion. “They [the district’s clerks] were told that the board supported the downgrade. And that’s not the fact,” she said. Dr. Aman, who opposed tabling the matter, was outvoted.
    When school meals came up on the agenda, they opened a proverbial can of worms. A motion to raise the prices of student breakfasts and lunches — breakfasts going up a quarter and lunches 50 cents — was carried, but it was contingent on improving the quality of food at the elementary school.
    The district serves about 90,000 lunches a year, and approximately 30,000 breakfasts, according to Isabel Madison, the district’s business administrator. She said the increase in price would be the first since 2008 and would not affect the free-lunch program, but would help offset a $21,000 deficit in student meals.
    Another discussion was about musical instruments the district owns that are not repairable. Whether they were recyclable remained unclear.
    Jim Moeller, a resident and one of the few district residents who, with his wife, Mary Ella, regularly attends board meetings, welcomed the new members.
    “I hope this board will continue to consider the taxpayers who support this whole operation,” he said.