The Tuckahoe School Board is working to convince state education officials that the school district’s interim superintendent-principal, Brian McCarthy, has tamed the district’s recent turbulence so effectively that he should be allowed to stay another year.
According to the New York State Education Department, a school district must obtain a waiver for adminstrators if they are already retired from public employment in the state, under age 65 and would earn more than $30,000 from public employment with the state during the calendar year in question. Mr. McCarthy, a retired school administrator who was brought in to manage Tuckahoe last year, meets all three of these standards.
“The process ensures that a retiree—already collecting a public pension—may be selected only where a certified and qualified non-retired person cannot be found to fill the position,” explained Jonathan Burman, an education department spokesperson, who added that such circumstances are not unusual.
In a letter written earlier this month by the board’s attorney, Kevin Seaman, to the district superintendent of the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Ed Zero, Tuckahoe is described as being in a state of some upheaval and Mr. McCarthy is the much-needed stabilizer.
“The strife and dislocation that arose both within the school district community and the community at large could not have been anticipated when the six-month waiver was sought (and approved),” the memo states. Mr. McCarthy’s initial waiver was for the first six months of 2010. “It is clear that there has been a six-month period of upset within the Tuckahoe community which has been greatly stabilized through the efforts of Interim Superintendent Brian McCarthy,” it goes on to say.
Mr. Zero will scrutinize the request before it heads to the state for consideration.
“In the face of the fairly abrupt replacement of the superintendent last year, there is still a need for further time for that stability to be institutionalized,” Mr. Seaman said in an earlier interview. The campaign by members of the community seeking a referendum on a proposal to transform Tuckahoe from a “common” to a “union free” district, which could result in the expansion of the three-member school board, and the death of eighth-grade math teacher Marc Nardin only added to the tumult, Mr. Seaman said. The petition for the referendum is being considered by the state’s commissioner of education.
Other reasons Tuckahoe is citing in its application for the waiver to keep Mr. McCarthy on are the fact that he has made significant changes to the district’s operations, including tweaking the master schedule to increase instructional time and the idea that an extension of Mr. McCarthy’s contract would ease the way for a permanent superintendent to eventually take the reins.
The three-member School Board announced last month that it was extending Mr. McCarthy’s contract—originally set to expire at end of this school year on June 30—through June 30, 2011. A statement read by Board Chairwoman Sharon Grindle that night praised the administrator’s leadership and stated that he has “uncovered a number of areas of concern, identified areas that need improvement and begun to take the necessary steps to remedy many of these issues.”
Ms. Grindle said as long as extending Mr. McCarthy’s contract was an option, the district should pursue it so he could continue to effect positive change. Board member Robert Grisnik deferred questions to Ms. Grindle, The board’s third member, Susan Riccardi, whose term ends at the end of this school year, did not return calls seeking comment.
A waiver application must be made to the commissioner of education within 30 days of the beginning term of employment. Mr. McCarthy’s new contract, for which he will earn an annual salary of $165,000, is set to begin July 1.
In addition, a “thorough and good-faith search for a non-retired individual” to fill the position must not yet have been successful. All certified, non-retired candidates must be considered, the position must have been broadly advertised and a search for a permanent employee must continue during the service of the interim employee, according to the state regulations. Further, those candidates must be shown not to be able to address the current situation at a school as effectively as the current interim employee.
The board had already begun searching for a permanent superintendent this year, and BOCES had narrowed the list of candidates to 10, although Tuckahoe had not yet interviewed anyone. The search is expected to resume next school year.