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Story - Education

Jan 13, 2010 11:55 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe school considers new superintendent and expanded board

Jan 13, 2010 11:55 AM

On the night the Tuckahoe School Board officially welcomed its an interim superintendent-principal to the district, the deeply divided board bickered publicly over the future of the district’s administration and absorbed continued public criticism over its ouster of former Superintendent Linda Rozzi.

The three-person board voted, in a contentious and split vote typical of much of its business in the last year, to divide the district superintendent’s job into two positions—superintendent and principal—likely meaning the elimination of the current assistant principal’s position.

Board members also said—in a rare moment of agreement—that they would look into the possibility of the district becoming a union free school district, which would allow it to expand its School Board from three to five members and possibly qualify for additional state aid.

The resolution to divide the top administrator’s job came over the objections of the board’s most veteran member, Robert Grisnik, who has served on the board for more than 20 years. Board Chairwoman Sharon Grindle and board member Susan Riccardi, voted in favor of splitting the positions. It was their votes against extending the contract of former Superintendent Linda Rozzi, over the angry shouts from crowds of parents and teachers, that ultimately pushed Ms. Rozzi to resign last summer. She remained in the job for the first semester of this year only after the board majority caved to the public pressure and brokered an on-the-fly agreement with her during a board meeting in July.

In defending the reorganization of the administration, Ms. Grindle said that a consultant to the district from Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services had recommended the move. But Mr. Grisnik said the consultant had simply recommended that if the board were going to split the position, it would be wise to do so before it hired a new superintendent.

“They did not tell us it was the way to go—do not mislead the public,” Mr. Grisnik said, noting that the proposal had never been brought up in board discussions prior to this week’s meeting, when it was to be offered in a resolution. He said the idea should have been discussed in public extensively and that teachers and parents should have been asked for their opinions on the measure.

The splitting of the position was on the agenda for Monday’s meeting even though it had not been discussed in recent board meetings. When Mr. Grisnik said he wanted to discuss the measure before a vote, his request was met with a smirk and roll of the eyes from Ms. Grindle, who seemed unsure of the process for holding a vote on the measure, which requires a motion, a second and a discussion before a vote can be cast.

Ms. Grindle, a retired teacher, said that many small districts have split their top administration job in recent years as superintendents’ duties have become bogged down in administrative paperwork that made it more difficult for them to focus on curriculum and overseeing the school’s students at the same time.

“The superintendent position in all districts has become cumbersome with computer data entry,” she said. “The principal is really the education and curriculum leader.”

She noted that parents had petitioned the School Board to split the superintendent-principal position two years ago. Ms. Grindle said the salaries of the separate superintendent and principal would be very close to the current salaries Assistant Principal Gail Ackerson is earning and what Ms. Rozzi had been earning.

Mr. Grisnik was critical of the move. He said he feels the district is still small enough to warrant having a single administrator overseeing both the management of the district and guiding the curriculum. He said that the other board members’ apparent intent to do away with the assistant principal’s position would also mean that when the students returned to school after next summer they would be met by two entirely new administrators.

“I don’t want to see this school start a new year with two new administrators that have never been here,” Mr. Grisnik said.

Mr. Grisnik also noted that Ms. Ackerson has a year left on her three-year contract with the district and asked how the other board members planned to fire her. Ms. Grindle said that she had been advised that the contract can be broken if the district is eliminating the position altogether because it is deemed “no longer effective.”

The move was approved 2-1, with Mr. Grisnik dissenting. Ms. Riccardi cast her vote without comment on the proposal.

After three separate parents brought up the idea of expanding the School Board to five members, Mr. Grisnik and Ms. Grindle both said it was an idea that warranted investigation. Mr. Grisnik said that he had proposed evolving the district into a union free district in the past and that all it would require is a petition from district residents and for the board to call a referendum on the issue. As a union free district, he said, Tuckahoe may also be eligible for additional transportation aid from the state. Ms. Grindle said she would talk with state eduction officials immediately and find out what steps would have to be taken to make the change.

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This article is a very fair representation of exactly what happened at this board meeting. Last Monday, in a disgusting display of childish back and forth, our board voted once again to move forward without thought, consideration or consultation. The board has decided that we need a Superintendent and a Principal - something that most of us never even knew was under consideration.

Despite Trustee Grisnik's assertion that it would negatively effect the school and his suggestion that ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 18, 10 2:46 PM
4 members liked this comment
I agree that a 5 member board would better serve the Tuckahoe community. However, how many times have board members run unopposed. Where will these 5 people come from? Prehaps it is time for Tuckahoe to become part of Southampton School District. Then Tuckahoe residents could have some representation where most of our students attend high school.
By interestedtaxpayer (21), southampton on Jan 19, 10 8:54 AM
How come every time Ms. Grindle is described in an article describling board meetings she is always rolling her eyes, crying,shouting,cursing and basically acting like a Saturday Night Live Character?and to quote a SNL skit, "What up with that?!?!"
By EastEndGrl (9), southampton on Jan 19, 10 8:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mrs. Grindle does not shout or curse, the Press has never reported her as doing so either. Readers should know that EastEndGrl has made this up.
By flyonthewall (30), Southampton on Jan 19, 10 9:51 PM
serious, EastEndGirl! Get your facts straight! It is Riccardi who shouts and curses!

Both of them need to G-O.
By katewatson (7), Southampton on Jan 28, 10 6:10 PM
Mr. Grisnik has done a lot for this district and when he has to express sorrow for the firing, then somethings not right. I've heard nothing but good things about Ms. Rozzi, I would like to more on why she was relieved of her duties? As for Ms. Grindle... THERE'S NO CRYING ON THE SCHOOL BOARD!!!!!!
By Ryan (2), Southampton on Jan 19, 10 9:59 PM
I think if the Board had shared some of the issues as to why they were reluctant to renew Ms. Rozzi's contract it would have promoted a feeling of goodwill in the community. However, they did not and it is probably safe to say, that hopefully they have learned from this. I bellieve each of the board members truly believes they have the best interest of the community at heart. We are all a work in progress. Let's try to find a way to be good citizens and be good role-models for our children. Principals ...more
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 10 1:40 PM
The only interests this board has in mind is their own. Give these type of people a little taste of power and they will take advantage. The proof is in the pudding.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 10 7:57 AM
This Board has again provided another iron clad reason for the school to be consolidated under a single administration. The amount of tax dollars spent by
this little country club is an excessive burden on the community. Don't split the job in two; eliminate it altogether. Remember $28,000 + for each student per year.
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 10:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
As someone pointed out before they're paying the old superintendent for the whole year and the temporary person something like $1,000 a day and I've also heard they just gave the accountant or bookeeper or someone like that a $50,000 raise! Forget being answerable to the parents at the school, these people don't even consider the other taxpayers! Some of us are pretty fed up!
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 10 4:29 PM
You don't even live in the district!! Fed up for what?!?!? Living in Hampton Bays?
By hamptonteacher (13), East Hampton on Feb 1, 10 11:05 PM
Its impossible to divide the role in half. The responsibilities for either position can not be done by one person. Owning a house on Long Island and paying school taxes is not a new thing. Don't like it, then get an apartment!
By hamptonteacher (13), East Hampton on Feb 1, 10 11:08 PM