Adam Fine, who has championed school safety, academic growth, and mental and physical health for teens during his 10 years as the East Hampton High School principal, will take over for Richard Burns as superintendent in the 2021-22 school year, the district announced Tuesday.
Mr. Fine will first spend a year as the East Hampton School District’s assistant superintendent, filling the role now held by Robert Tymann, who will retire in June after eight years with the district. School officials said that will enable Mr. Fine to work closely with Mr. Burns to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.
“Adam has big shoes to fill,” said J.P. Foster, the school board president, during Tuesday night’s meeting. “There is a lot of work and a lot of ground to cover. We’re putting our trust in Adam to move forward. . . . I’m proud to say we’re going to have someone from the principal’s position who will move up. You can’t just get it because you’re here — you’ve got to be good.”
Mr. Fine was previously a principal in the Southampton School District, and has been credited with helping to stabilize the leadership in East Hampton. More recently, he launched a war on the teen vaping epidemic, and even testified alongside some of his students before a congressional committee in Washington, D.C. He described leaving his high school post as “bittersweet,” but said he is honored to have the chance to serve in a new capacity.
“This place is part of me,” Mr. Fine said. “I really appreciate this. This has been three years of discussions. . . . I’m super motivated, super pumped.”
He described the high school staff, and particularly Timothy Fromm and Karen Kuneth, the two assistant principals, as “amazing.”
“We’re in good hands,” Mr. Fine said. “I’m looking forward to the building continuing to grow. I hope my successor eclipses anything I accomplished here. It’s only going to get better.”
Dr. Tymann has been credited with, among many accomplishments, improving professional development programs for teachers and working hard to ramp up the district’s science and technology offerings. Christina DeSanti, the school board vice president, said the programs are “stellar” now.
“You were a major force behind what has happened in this district in the last nine years,” she told Dr. Tymann. “Everything was executed quickly, effortlessly. When we asked you to get something done, you got it done. We all felt a sense that we could rely on Bob, and we tasked you with some really difficult things.”
In his retirement, Dr. Tymann will continue to live locally — a promise he made to the district, and fulfilled, when he was first hired.
“My job was kind of to make people uncomfortable. I’ve always considered that my role,” Dr. Tymann said. “I think it’s an important role. Being uncomfortable is a prerequisite to learning.”
His tenure will end on June 30. He said Tuesday that he plans to start an oyster garden through an East Hampton Town program after he concludes his service to the schools.
“I’ve got six months. Maybe we’ll accomplish some more things,” Dr. Tymann said.
In a statement, Mr. Burns said the district is grateful to Dr. Tymann for “his dedication and commitment to the students of East Hampton. He has been a strong partner and valued colleague. We wish him the best in his well-earned retirement.”
Mr. Burns initially expressed his own desire to retire two years ago, but agreed to stay on through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Otherwise, he said, the district would have seen its top three administrators — including the assistant superintendent for business — depart at virtually the same time.
The board voted 6-0, with Wendy Geehreng absent, to accept Dr. Tymann’s retirement letter. A formal school board resolution approving Mr. Fine’s new position is forthcoming.
School officials said Tuesday that while the high school principal’s job will be posted publicly, they are hoping to find qualified internal candidates. The assistant superintendent’s post will also be posted publicly after Mr. Fine is appointed superintendent.
School board members said they were confident in the transition plan.
“I like where we’re at,” said John Ryan Sr.
Jackie Lowey said the decision came after a series of executive-session discussions over the past year. “This is not just a conversation that we’re having tonight,” she said. “We as a board talked about different things and decided we didn’t want to spend public money doing a superintendent search.”
The last superintendent search, Mr. Burns said, cost the district between $30,000 and $35,000.
The district is also seeking a permanent replacement for its business official. Isabel Madison, who retired two years ago as assistant superintendent for business but returned in October after the abrupt departure of Jerel Cokley, agreed to return for several months to oversee the development of next year’s school budget.
Mr. Foster said the district announced its plan Tuesday to keep the community, including officials from the East Hampton-area feeder districts, well informed.
“We want the public to know what we want to do,” he said. “It goes back to having consistency in our line of administrators. Adam is well deserving of the opportunity to lead further.”