By Amanda Wyatt
An issue put on the backburner for months — finding a permanent superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District — resurfaced this week when it was raised by several community members at Monday night’s school board meeting.
The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Dr. John Gratto resigned last July. A month later, Dr. Carl Bonuso was appointed interim superintendent by the board of education (BOE), with the initial goal of finding a permanent replacement to take the helm for the 2013-2014 school year.
In January, however, the BOE opted to extended Dr. Bonuso’s contract another year. Based on the suggestion of School Leadership, the consulting firm used to oversee the process of selecting a superintendent, the BOE postponed the search until September 2013.
However, at the April 8 board meeting, several community members shared their concerns about delaying the search for another year.
“That really feels like a crime to me, whether they said it or not and they’re the experts, there’s so much time there,” said Kate Lawton. “It just feels wrong.”
Walter Tice, a former member and president of the BOE, also agreed with Lawton, while praising the work Dr. Bonuso has completed in the district.
“We can’t wait until [Dr. Bonuso is] gone and then find somebody. We’ve got to do it now, and I think it’s been too slow.”
As Steve Clark, a community member, put it, an interim superintendent “is a Band-Aid on a long term problem.”
“We can take a look at it,” said Theresa Samot, BOE president. “Board, if you agree, I’ll certainly contact the consultants again and maybe get some recommendations in writing from them that I could share with everybody, because we want to do what’s best for the students in the district, absolutely.”
Also during public input, parent Allison Scanlon brought up the district’s recent decision to wait another year to apply for a Local Government Efficiency Grant on shared services with several other neighboring districts.
When she asked if there could be an opportunity for the community to weigh in on conversations about reapplying, Dr. Bonuso and several board members answered, “Absolutely.”
In related news, the district announced on Monday that it had added $100,000 to its proposed budget, bringing the total to $35,508,622. Of this increase, $40,000 will be used to install security cameras at all exterior doors, as well as an entry alert system, $30,000 will be used to upgrade communications systems in the school, and an additional $10,000 has been proposed to fund a summer program.
There will also be a $5,000 decrease in an account under the umbrella of students with disabilities, and this money will be put toward the $25,000 set aside for the creation of a school-wide drug and alcohol program.
At the same time, revenues are expected to increase by $1,326,366 or 3.88 percent from last year.
Of the $35,508,622 coming into the district, $32,739,375 is from the tax levy; $1,548,247 is from state aid projections; $475,000 is from out-of-district tuitions; $117,000 is from PILOT payments and $50,000 is expected from sharing services and facilities with other districts. $500,000 will come from an appropriated fund balance and the remaining $145,361 is from grants, interest and miscellaneous revenue.
Following a suggestion from board member Mary Anne Miller, the BOE has decided to hold an extra budget workshop, which will take place on Monday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. Prior to the workshop, community members may submit their questions on the budget on homepage of the school’s website.
Also on the district’s plate is a series of upcoming curriculum workshops—much like the budget workshops that were held this spring — which will be open to the public.
The first is on foreign language offerings and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 22, following the budget workshop. During this time, language teachers will discuss the current status, changes and challenges to their curriculum.
Two other workshops on math and the IB program will be held on May 7 and June 3, respectively.