Bridgehampton School Succession Plan Comes into Focus
By Christine Sampson
The retirement announcement of Bridgehampton School District superintendent and principal Dr. Lois Favre in February was accompanied by news that the school board had quietly chosen two new administrators from within the district to take her place.
According to an internal school district memo circulated on February 21 and obtained this week by The Sag Harbor Express, Bridgehampton is undertaking a “transition plan” through which the school board expects to appoint as its new superintendent Robert Hauser, who currently serves as the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and facilities. Michael Miller, currently the athletic director and a physical education teacher, is slated to become the principal.
Additionally, Aleta Parker, the director of Bridgehampton’s response to intervention program, is in line to become the assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum, according to the memo.
Although Dr. Favre would only say Monday that “nothing has been finalized or approved by the board at this time,” and that the board has also not yet formally voted to accept her retirement notice, Ronnie White, the school board president, confirmed Monday that “transition plan” is what the board intends to pursue. He also said a fourth administrator, Melisa Stiles, currently the district’s treasurer, is being considered to fill the business administration position that will be left vacant when Mr. Hauser is promoted.
“I think Dr. Favre and the school board both kind of collaborated together and realized we had some candidates in district that were certainly qualified and were also looking to grow,” Mr. White said.
He continued, “Being on the board for so many years, I liked the idea. They are certified, qualified and know our district. We are about to embark on something significant with the expansion, and what better position for us to be in than with the people who have been along with us for the ride? We’ve got people in district that are absolutely amazing that will jump right in and continue to move on with what Dr. Favre has started.”
Mr. White said he felt Ms. Parker’s teaching and curriculum-building experience would complement Mr. Hauser’s business experience to move Bridgehampton forward.
“They will work in tandem,” he said.
None of the positions were posted publicly for applicants outside the district to view, nor did the administration consider other internal candidates from among school staff, Mr. White said. New York State Education Department law does not require superintendent and principal positions to be posted. Mr. White said publicly posting the jobs would have been “plan B” if they had determined they did not already have any qualified candidates in-house.
“We believed that it would be very efficient for us to proceed with what we have,” he said. “We felt very comfortable that we are doing the right thing for our community and our district. Very frequently we find that these districts are just stopping places for something bigger and better, but it’s soothing to know that the bigger and better place is right here.”
Julie Lutz, chief executive officer of the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which often assists school districts with leadership searches, said in an interview Monday she has seen superintendent positions filled by educational professionals and business professionals alike.
“The job of a superintendent is very much split. You’re running a district that has a lot of financial obligations,” Ms. Lutz said. “And then there are districts that might have a strong business official in that regard and they feel there is a need for an instructional leader. Districts take a look at what they have in place and what they need, and bring in a superintendent that will fill that need, and that varies from district to district.”
She also said she has seen more and more districts in the last five years launching superintendent searches on their own, as opposed to using private companies or BOCES entities to help them search, and said it’s not unheard of for a district to hire from within.
“When it comes to choosing a leader for a school district, there are so many factors,” Ms. Lutz said. “Hiring from within gives a school board a really good indication of whom they’re getting. Going through a search process could allow a community to have more input.”
Bridgehampton is one of a few local districts with recent or upcoming leadership changes. The Springs School District recently used the search firm District Wise Search Consultants to hire Debra Winter as its new superintendent in April. The Shelter Island School District is seeking a successor for Leonard Skuggevik, who is stepping down, and has hired School Leadership LLC to search for a new superintendent. The Southampton School District in April promoted Dr. Nicholas Dyno, who had served as interim superintendent for several months following the controversial departure of Scott Farina, and did not use a search firm.