Superintendent Will Retire in June

Board credited Hartner with saving district millions on new tuition deal

    Michael Hartner, the Springs School superintendent since 2009, has tendered his resignation to the school board, effective June 30, 2012.
    Mr. Hartner, who has spent the last 38 years in education, according to Kathee Burke Gonzalez, the school board president, gave the board his letter of resignation on Nov. 7. The public announcement of his decision came at Monday’s school board meeting.
    According to Ms. Gonzalez, Mr. Hartner had informed the board at the beginning of the year of his possible plans to retire before the end of his contract in 2013. Mr. Hartner’s wife, Ann Marie Hartner, a registered nurse, has recently retired, and his youngest son, Daniel, graduates from high school in June.
    Although Mr. Hartner took heat early last year from teachers angry about his $20,000 raise while they were working without a contract, he was credited just a few months later with saving taxpayers $3.2 million over the life of the district’s newly-negotiated high school tuition contract with the East Hampton School District.
    Among other accomplishments mentioned at Monday’s meeting, Mr. Hartner instituted an initiative for pre-kindergarten at Springs, lengthened the school day, and expanded the campus to include the former Most Holy Trinity Elementary School building in East Hampton and the town-owned youth building on school property off Old Stone Highway.
    “He will be sorely missed,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “Mike set the bar incredibly high.”
    The next step, she said, is interviewing executive search firms to find one that will aid in the process of finding his successor.
    “We will also listen to input from parents, the community, and staff,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “But it will be the board that ultimately makes the decision.”
    Mr. Hartner recalled sitting in his car in the school parking lot during his first year, “next to a lopsided generator and a green trailer up on blocks, and thinking to myself, ‘If I do nothing else during my time here. . . .’ “ The board and audience laughed.
    Mr. Hartner also praised the school’s staff, educators, and board. “This board is like no board I have ever seen,” he said on Monday night. “They deserve your gratitude.”
    Springs will mount its superintendent search at the same time that the East Hampton School District is conducting its own search for a permanent superintendent. Richard Burns has been acting as interim superintendent there since Raymond Gualtieri departed this summer.
    Also at Monday’s meeting, Eric Casale, the school’s principal, and Adam Osterweil, an English teacher, offered a presentation on the Renaissance Learning Star Reader program, a computerized model that allows teachers and parents to track the reading habits of individual students from grades four through eight through a series of quizzes that the students answer based on books they have read.
    “I’m always amazed to see how far ahead we are at collecting data, something we’ve been doing for the past six or seven years,” Mr. Casale said. The program is state and federally approved, and in line with the soon-to-be-mandated Common Core Learning Standards.
    “We can graph a student’s progress over one year or over several years, from pre-K to eighth grade,” Mr. Osterweil said. The program is different than the one used at East Hampton High School, which is not state approved, according to Mr. Casale. “We can send them off to high school with a convenient folder,” he said.
    The district’s traffic safety committee is taking another look at parking around the school, and is studying the possibility of moving the fence on the back side of the gym in order to accommodate as many as 25 cars.
    “Obviously we would go to an architect or engineer,” Mr. Hartner said, “but in the meantime John Gibbons’s class [computer lab] has been submitting designs with ideas.”