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Process Matters

Wed, 03/13/2024 - 17:38


The Amagansett School District needs a new superintendent. In October, the school board bought out the contract of its then-superintendent and appointed an interim school chief, who recently assumed the role of principal as well. Putting the cart before the horse, the district has also asked an Eastern Suffolk BOCES administrator to begin to look for a new superintendent even before the Amagansett board formally approved the hiring of anyone to do so. This bumpy process is one reason why many teachers and parents in the Amagansett School District are calling on the board to stabilize the district’s leadership by promoting a new superintendent from within the ranks of its veteran teaching staff.

Normally, for any open job, not just that of a well-compensated school superintendent, a common-sense best practice is to post a notice about the job publicly to attract a large and diverse pool of candidates. The Bridgehampton School District faced criticism several years ago, for example, when it chose a superintendent and principal from within, without publicly announcing either of those positions.

We recognize this situation is unsual. In the last 21 years, according to one count, Amagansett has had five superintendents, two interim superintendents, and four principals. No doubt the leadership needs to be stabilized with a candidate that the community so desperately wants to trust.

A compromise could be for the Amagansett School Board to appoint an interim superintendent for the 2024-25 school year from among its veteran teaching staff (who should still have to formally apply for the role and be vetted). Teachers said this week that there are at least three current faculty members with the appropriate certifications and qualifications for the job. Let that person hold the position for a year before the school board hands him or her a six-figure contract for three to five years, which is the standard for a superintendent on the South Fork.

This would also afford the school board members time to go about finding a permanent superintendent without having to lay out money for an outside consultant to do the hiring for them. Amagansett should look to the neighboring Springs School District for a successful model on how to manage this process. And if the successful interim superintendent indeed proves to be the trustworthy, dedicated leader the Amagansett School wants and needs, then the compromise could turn into a win for the district.

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