Sag Harbor School District Will Seek Interim Superintendent

Pierson Middle-High School.

On Tuesday night, the Sag Harbor Board of Education empowered School Leadership LLC to begin a search for an interim superintendent that would serve from early December through the spring, when a permanent replacement for Superintendent Katy Graves is expected to be hired.

Jordana Sobey, the board president, explained this week that hiring an interim in early December would allow Ms. Graves, who is set to retire on January 6, the ability to help in the transition to new leadership.

School Leadership LLC President Dr. Charles W. Fowler also gave a presentation at the October 7 Board of Education meeting, explaining what community members said they wanted from a new superintendent through an online survey and forums held at Pierson Middle/High School.

“Forty-six percent of people who responded to the survey said they thought good classroom teaching experience was an important factor for the new superintendent,” Dr. Fowler said. “Forty-five percent felt it was important that the person had prior experience working with a school board/superintendent partnership.”

According to Dr. Fowler, School Leadership LLC received 168 total responses for their online survey. The top five experiences and skill factors desired by community members were: knowledge of the school’s large budget, leadership in a similar school district, planning, classroom experience and work with the School Board.

Community members identified the strengths of the Sag Harbor schools and community, calling Sag Harbor a “unique community,” a “gem” of a district on the East End boasting “good programs in fine and performing arts,” supported by artists in the community, strong building leadership, and experienced administrators.

Community members said the Sag Harbor schools are “like private schools,” and most of the community is “pro-education.” Throughout the meetings and surveys, community members applauded the “morning program” at the elementary school, small class sizes, and small-town culture where the superintendent is often seen at games and events.
Some challenges brought up for the new superintendent were addressing the bifurcation of the International Baccalaureate program — the perception that kids are either on the IB track, or not, with no in-between — and enhancing communication with the parents and community.

Items identified as characteristics and background experiences which should be sought in the new superintendent included experience in working in a global community, a good manager of the School Board, great communicator with all stakeholders, strong classroom teaching experience, strong instructional leadership experience, supportive of staff and students, and understands and adheres to the role of the superintendent.

Community members also expressed a desire for an open-door policy, a willingness to become an active part of the community, and to commit to living in Sag Harbor or close by so as to became a part of the broader community.

Dr. Fowler said the target group for recruitment is currently employed, successful superintendents or other educational leaders.

On Tuesday, the board also adopted a timeline for the superintendent search. In October, it will authorize advertising and establish a salary and benefit package, with a search including solicitation of nominees and other recruitment activities expected between December 2019 and February 2020, when final applications will be accepted.

The consultants of School Leadership LLC will screen the candidates, conduct interviews and run reference checks throughout March 2020, when consultants will present information on all applicants with suggested semi-finalists to the board.

Throughout March and April, the board will select two to three finalists for additional interviews, and additional reference checks. Finally, in April, the board is expected to negotiate the contract and appoint a new superintendent.

“I think the timeline is very well thought out,” board member Susan Shaefer finished.