School Superintendent Christine Finn leaving the district

Christine Finn.

Two years after coming to Shelter Island as school superintendent and principal, Christine Finn will be leaving the district on July 1 to become superintendent of the Carle Place School District.

The change was announced to staff members Monday. Ms. Finn told the Reporter it was a difficult decision. She was torn between her love of the Shelter Island District and family responsibilities and described leaving as painful but necessary.

Ms. Finn previously worked in Carle Place as an assistant superintendent. When a call came asking if she would consider the top spot there, she said the offer was too good to reject.

Before coming to Shelter Island, Ms. Finn had been assistant superintendent for the Herricks School District, a job she took after Carle Place.

When she accepted the Shelter Island job, it was because the small district with fewer than 300 students would provide both the administrative responsibilities she wanted with the opportunity to be close to students and staff in the way she couldn’t in a 3,000-student district.

What she will earn as superintendent is far more than Shelter Island can afford, but the prime reason for accepting the job in Carle Place was not financial, Ms. Finn said.

David Flatley, the superintendent she will be replacing in Carle Place, was slated to receive a combination of compensations in the 2019-20 school year of $259,512 for instructional responsibilities and $79,900 for non-instructional work. That doesn’t mean the district will be paying the same salary to Ms. Finn.

She was hired by Shelter Island two years ago at a salary of $185,000, which was upped to $188,700 this year.

Board of Education President Thomas Graffagnino called Ms. Finn’s loss “bittersweet.” He had hoped she would stay with the district for a long time because she has been “such a perfect fit for us,” but he’s happy for her opportunity.

Looking ahead, between now and the end of June, Mr. Graffagnino said his advice to the board will be to first look at the two candidates who didn’t win the job when Ms. Finn was appointed. He also said in view of the administrative staffing at the school, he would be open to seeing the district share a superintendent with another district.

His reference was to the strength academic administrator Jennifer Rylott and Director of Athletics, Physical Education, Health, Wellness and Personnel Todd Gulluscio bring to the district. He also noted the excellent work by Linda Haas since she was appointed business leader in the past year.

With those three in place, a part-time superintendent who could be on the Island two days a week, could be effective, Mr. Graffagnino said.

With little time before school starts in September, he hopes the board won’t have to spend time and money working with consultants in a job search.

Ms. Finn’s successor will be the district’s ninth superintendent since 1986. The departing superintendent promises a smooth transition, saying she will make herself available beyond her July 1 start in Carle Place to provide whatever help is necessary to ensure her replacement is ready to handle the job.