Supe to Be Part Time

Springs School weighs new administrative model

    Following community, staff, and school board discussions with Raymond Fell, a superintendent search consultant with Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Education Services, the Springs School Board announced at its meeting on Monday night that it plans to adopt a new administrative model for the district when its current superintendent retires at the end of the school year.
    The superintendent position would become a part-time one and the school’s principal, Eric Casale, will get a full-time assistant principal.
    “The administrative demands at the building have increased exponentially in the last few years given our ever-increasing school population, the implementation of the new Common Core Learning Standards in English language arts and math, the annual performance testing in grades three through eight, as well as the ramifications of Race to the Top and the annual professional performance reviews,” Kathee Burke Gonzalez, the school board president, said in a statement handed out during the meeting. “The part-time superintendent, full-time principal, and full-time assistant principal administrative leadership model should serve to increase administrative support and coverage while saving the district money.”
    Michael Hartner, the outgoing superintendent, has been with the district for three years.
    “I’ve never been asked to talk about this model before,” Mr. Fell acknowledged on Monday night. But, he said, with close to 700 students at Springs, “it might benefit the school to reinforce some of the administrative structure in the building. Having a part-time superintendent with a full-time assistant principal is ideal, if it can be done without increasing cost.”
    Ms. Gonzalez said yesterday that a formal vote on establishing the new model wouldn’t be held until after the district budget is passed, most likely in June. “At that time we would vote to abolish the full-time position and establish a part-time superintendent position,” she said.
    Mr. Casale referred to the widespread speculation that he might step into the superintendent’s shoes. “I want to thank the board for considering me,” he said. “But this is my seventh year in Springs, and I truly enjoy being the principal. I’d like to continue being that person,” he said, adding, “I’m looking forward to working with the new administrative team.”
    The three biggest issues that a new superintendent will have to face — according to the information Mr. Fell gathered from staff and community — are the continuing relationship with East Springs students as they move into a different educational institution,” space needs, and the changing demographics, notably the increase in English language learners and special education students.
    “The new person needs the skills to deal with this,” Mr. Fell said.
    A preferred professional background for the ideal candidate would include experience in the classroom, in running a building, and central office experience, with a strong business background. Perhaps most important, the candidate would need to have experience in dealing with other small, preferably rural, schools.
    The board will advertise for the position toward the end of this month, and will accept applications through the end of February. The new superintendent would need to be available on July 1.
    Raymond Wojtusiak, a sixth-grade teacher, added his concern about the unique challenges facing Springs to Monday’s discussion. “We’re seen as a high-spending district,” he said. “The public doesn’t necessarily understand that this district is booming. Our density is higher than East Hampton or Montauk, and we need to educate everyone regardless.”