Lots of unanswered questions stay concerning the change in title and tasks of former Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider, as district officers side-stepped inquiries about Schneider’s appointment with tenure Tuesday night time to the assistant superintendent place and different modifications involving the enterprise perform within the district.
The Board of Training voted to remove the place of deputy superintendent, Schneider’s title since 2016. He was returned to the title and place he held upon his hiring in 2011.
The Board of Training permitted the measure 6 to 1, with trustee Christopher Dorr dissenting.
After the college board held a particular assembly in govt session on Sept. 28, with out offering any description of the matters to be mentioned, rumors started circulating about Schneider’s attainable separation from the district. One other govt session assembly on Oct. 4 was performed for the acknowledged function of contract negotiations, in accordance with the assembly discover.
District officers haven’t supplied touch upon whether or not the matters mentioned on the latest particular conferences pertained to Schneider and/or the abolition of the deputy superintendent place. Dialogue of issues regarding the employment of a specific individual are exempt from the State Open Conferences Legislation.
Superintendent Augustine Tornatore advised reporters that the deputy superintendent place will not be vital for the operation of the district.
“Fairly frankly a district of the scale of Riverhead, for my part, actually doesn’t have to have a deputy place,” he mentioned.
Tornatore mentioned the district’s most up-to-date organizational chart displays the tasks of Schneider’s new function within the district. Tornatore mentioned that when he entered the district, he took on extra tasks as superintendent. He reorganized the district in order that the buildings and grounds division and safety division report on to the superintendent, fairly than to the deputy.
“So we’re actually making an attempt to streamline issues and so that everyone may particularly be focused to a particular space of experience,” Tornatore mentioned. “I feel in case you take a look at the historical past of the district with the turnover of the superintendency, that with stability, you actually don’t want a deputy in that place.”
Tornatore mentioned he couldn’t focus on personnel points when requested particularly about Schneider.
Schneider was not in attendance at Tuesday’s assembly.
Schneider’s present employment contract states that if the deputy superintendent place is abolished, he has the proper to reclaim the assistant superintendent for finance and operations place with tenure. That place can’t be abolished with out a 12 months’s discover after being reclaimed. Schneider’s advantages and wage, which is $212,069 beneath his present one-year contract, will proceed throughout that point. Schneider’s employment contracts have contained this situation since no less than 2018. Contracts previous to that date usually are not posted on the district web site.
Schneider will report on to Tornatore and is liable for supervising the district’s enterprise workplace, the district treasurer, the transportation division and faculty lunch program, in accordance with the chart.
The deputy superintendent was the senior most official within the district after the superintendent and would lead of their absence. The elimination of that place now shifts second in command to Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Tona, which Tornatore mentioned is the extra “conventional” order of authority for many districts.
Tona acted as interim superintendent all through final college 12 months after former-Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez abruptly resigned. Tona sought the superintendent place, however the district finally employed Tornatore.
Kathy Berezny, a former president of the Board of Training, referred to as the decision “sloppy” as a result of it lumped each the abolition of Schneider’s outdated place and creation of the brand new one in the identical decision. She and others mentioned directors shouldn’t be employed with tenure. (Editor’s observe: Berezny writes a biweekly neighborhood column for RiverheadLOCAL. She will not be a member of the web site’s editorial staff.)
“We don’t want lifers in administration, we want them to have a contract,” Berezny mentioned. “In the event that they don’t do their job, we will both purchase them out, which Riverhead does on a regular basis, or dismiss them.”
Tornatore on the assembly additionally responded to questions concerning the new “appearing enterprise official” Herb Chessler, who he mentioned will assist with the fiscal operations of the district on an as-needed foundation, notably with the inflow of federal funding into the district and with the pursuit of grants.
“Along with the grants that we have already got, we need to all the time seek for extra grants, as a result of the extra grants we’re capable of have is much less of a burden to the taxpayer,” Tornatore mentioned. “So that’s one thing that we’re hoping that we’ll be capable of purchase extra grants as nicely sooner or later.”
Chessler is listed as an academic finance specialist with the agency ECG, which helps college districts with vitality efficiency contracts. Chessler has over 35 years of expertise at school district finance, with 20 years as chief college enterprise official, the biography says. His hiring on Oct. 5 at an hourly wage of $125 was permitted 6-1 with Dorr dissenting. The hiring occurred the day after an govt session particular assembly on Oct. 4.
“Appearing” often denotes a short lived place to switch a daily worker on depart or to briefly fill a emptiness in an present place. Tornatore didn’t reply RiverheadLOCAL’s questions on why “appearing” was included in Chessler’s title, whether or not the enterprise official place already existed previous to Chessler’s hiring or if the place was created by the board just lately. No board dialog about creating a brand new enterprise official place or amending the funds to fund it was held in public.
Members of the neighborhood questioned the board on what Chessler’s place on the district can be and drew a connection between Schneider’s demotion and the hiring of a brand new official in one of many workplaces he oversees.
“It’s so unfair what you might be doing to the district and to the youngsters,” Angela Ohlbaum of Aquebogue mentioned, arguing that the district was paying two individuals to do one job, and successfully “taking away cash that needs to be going for one thing else.”
The board Tuesday night time additionally employed Volz & Vigliotta, an schooling legislation agency in Nesconset, as particular authorized counsel. In response to the decision hiring the agency, the board began soliciting proposals for particular authorized counsel companies on Oct. 5, the day after the particular board assembly and the day Chessler was employed. The decision doesn’t state the aim of the legislation agency’s retainer and there’s no retainer settlement connected to or referenced within the decision. Tornatore declined to touch upon why they have been employed.
The superintendent referred RiverheadLOCAL’s questions Wednesday concerning the enterprise official place and the latest particular conferences to the district’s public relations agency, Syntax communications. Syntax supplied RiverheadLOCAL with a non responsive reply to the questions posed, merely offering a press release posted at the moment on the district’s web site, which contained the identical info Tornatore supplied reporters on the assembly Tuesday concerning the district’s organizational chart.
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