Parents Circle Wagons Around Sag Harbor Superintendent

Sag Harbor School Board - Katy Graves
Former Sag Harbor school board members Daniel Hartnett and David Diskin, with Superintendent Katy Graves, former board member Susan Kinsella, current board members Theresa Samot, Sandy Kruel and Chris Tice, and former member Mary Anne Miller when Ms. Graves’ was first hired in April of 2014.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves
Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves.

A group of parents is expected to turn out in force at next Monday night’s Sag Harbor School Board of Education meeting in an effort to offer their support for Superintendent Katy Graves.

Ms. Graves, who was hired by the district in 2014, did receive a raise this July, bumping her salary from $215,000 to $224,562 for the 2016-17 school year. Her contract, however, which ends on July 30, 2017 has not been extended despite language that specifically states that “If the Board has determined not to renew this Agreement at its expiration, it shall, at least one (1) year prior thereto, provide written notice of intention not to renew the Superintendent, so that she may have ample opportunity to seek other employment.”

“Failure to provide such one (1) year notice shall not serve to extend the expiration date of this contract,” the contract continues.

“The Superintendent may waive her right to notice of intent not to renew or waive the one (1) year requirement without formal amendment of this Agreement, but any such waiver must be in writing to be effective.”

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Graves did confirm her contract with the district is through June 2017, and that there is a date listed in that contract that states she must be informed about whether or not her contract would be renewed, but declined to elaborate.

“I am not comfortable answering at this time,” said Ms. Graves. “I genuinely believe conflict is not good for children and I want to open this school year with as least conflict as possible. We have a building project we are working on right now, and we are getting ready to open school, and I want all of that to be happen in as positive a way as possible.”

When asked if she had received correspondence from the board regarding her contract, Ms. Graves said, “Yes, but that is confidential in nature.”

On Friday, parents and local business owners Larry Baum and Jackie Fuchs — both who are behind an effort to bring parents to Monday’s board meeting in support of Ms. Graves — praised the superintendent.

“She has a tremendous amount of support within the school district, especially amongst teachers and parents,” said Mr. Baum. “I am hoping those parents show up Monday night and give their support to our amazing superintendent.”

“I’m a proud parent of three kids in our school system now and one which recently graduated and is now in college at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business program,” said Mr. Baum in a letter to the board of education. “I have been incredibly impressed over the past two years with Katy Graves our superintendent. She has seamlessly transitioned into her role here in Sag Harbor and helped the transition of the IB program, which helps kids like Sabrina get into good colleges. She has also  been instrumental in hiring some great teachers to our school. She has been a tremendous leader through our tragic losses of both parents and students. She has overseen the budget vote, which had its highest positive vote ever. She walked us all through the purchase of Stella Maris and should be given the right to chaperone us through that project. But most importantly she has become part of our community and family. She is at so many functions with a big smile and hug for our kids. She knows them all by name and is so supportive of them. She loves her job and it shows.”

Ms. Fuchs, who owns Salon 66, agrees.

“Katy has vision,” said Ms. Fuchs, who has a daughter in middle school. “I feel she is a very effective administrator, she knows all the children. I know that Katy is going to show up — she is not an administrator behind a closed door, and the students know that. They feel like they have her support.”

Sag Harbor School Board president Diana Kolhoff was out of town on business Friday and was unavailable for comment. The Sag Harbor School Board of Education is scheduled to meet in executive session at 6 p.m. with its business meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Included on the agenda for that meeting is a presentation by Ms. Graves on costs related to the installation of an artificial turf field, versus a natural seeded field at Pierson Middle-High School, as well as an update on the ongoing capital bond construction.