Board of Ed prez sees possible part-time superintendent

JULIE LANE PHOTO Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino
JULIE LANE PHOTO Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino

Between 1986 and 2017, eight different people have sat in Shelter Island School superintendent’s chair, with one serving two different terms.

If an immediate full-time successor is named by September to replace outgoing Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik as the Board of Education hopes, that will make nine, averaging approximately three years each.

Mr. Skuggevik came to the job in August 2014 and departs this August when the board said his three-year contract would not be renewed. He succeeded Dr. Michael Hynes, who was superintendent between 2011 and 2014.

Robert Parry was an interim choice hired for the 2010-2011 fill the slot when Sharon Clifford left. Ms. Clifford was with the district from 2005 to 2010.

Gil DeCicco was an interim in the 2004-05 school year. It was his second round of serving Shelter Island because he had also been here from 1999 to 20001 prior to the hiring of Kenneth Lanier Sr., who served the district between 2001 and 2004.

Lydia Axelrod was at the helm between 1993 and 1999 and Marlene Berman served between 1986 and 1993.

That turnover may seem like a revolving door, but Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino said he was surprised to learn from the American Association of Superintendents that three years is the average time span a superintendent serves a district.

“I was shocked at that,” he said. His wish would be that a superintendent would stay with the district for 10 to 12 years.

Small school districts often get superintendents who are nearing the end of their careers and want to spend their last few years in a relatively quiet district, Mr. Graffagnino said.

On the other hand, there are young superintendents who seek a smaller district with ambitions to move on to larger districts as they develop their skills, he said.

The Board of Education takes seriously the interests of parents and other community members in making its selections, Mr. Graffagnino said. It’s why the board slated forums to hear public opinion.

“Shared services are not off the table,” he said. That could involve hiring a superintendent for Shelter Island while also working part-time for another small district.

If that happened, it would be necessary to hire a full-time principal, but the combined cost of a part-time superintendent and full-time principal could save the district money, Mr. Graffagnino said.