Parents Want Involvement in Beacon Superintendent Search

School board still considering search firm

By Jeff Simms

The Beacon City Board of Education was expected on Monday (March 28) to give board attorney Michael Lambert approval to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to find a search firm to identify candidates for the district’s superintendent position. Instead, it heard from a number of parents who feared the board was moving forward without involving the community.

Board members had agreed at their March 14 meeting to review four sample RFPs — two from New York, one from New Jersey and one from Massachusetts — and their feedback was expected to help Lambert craft a request to begin the Beacon search. It wasn’t stated Monday night when the RFP will be issued.

Interim superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi confirmed at the meeting that she does not plan to apply for the full-time position but intends to return to her job as deputy superintendent (she is also a certified public accountant) once a new superintendent is hired. She has been performing both jobs since being named interim chief in January.

The Beacon Teachers’ Association recently endorsed Quartironi, asking the board to keep her on through the 2016-17 school year.

Interim superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi (photo provided)
Interim superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi (photo provided)

“I love my old job,” Quartironi said Monday. “I love being the business official. I do want to return [to that position] and be able to support the new superintendent when that person is hired.”

During public comments, several parents questioned what they characterized as a rush to issue an RFP, as well as other components of the search.

“What is called for now is true stakeholder involvement and a shared comprehensive vision for our district,” said Rebecca Correllus, who spoke on behalf of the Advocates for Beacon Schools (ABS). “The stakeholders are here and we are ready to cultivate that vision.”

Correllus read from a petition circulated by ABS and signed, she said, by 216 people, that urges the school board to create a “culture of transparency and cooperation” by establishing a committee of community stakeholders, teachers and administrators that, along with the Board of Education, would be “empowered” to conduct the search. She also questioned Lambert’s role in the process, given allegations leveled against him by parents in recent months.

“Why is one individual, who is associated with the controversies of the former superintendent, and whose contract is also up for renewal, along with three seats on the board, being given the job of drafting this RFP?” she asked.

The board typically renews (and modifies, if needed) its contract with legal counsel after board elections, which will be held May 17.

Instead, said Correllus, she asked the board to follow the lead of the Spackenkill School District in Poughkeepsie, which has posted a timeline and mission statement dedicated to its superintendent search online.

Later in the evening, board members assured the audience that public input will be part of the search.

“We certainly want the community to be involved,” said board member Tracy Everett. “We want the entire community to be able to participate.” The district will  have more information about a timeline and methodology once a search firm has been hired, she added.

As for Spackenkill, said board Vice President Bill Zopf, “certainly, the kind of things that are happening [there] — those are the kind of things we’re looking for,”

The district hopes to make a hire “as soon as reasonably possible,” Zopf added, noting, however, that, “we’re not in an absolute rush. We want to make sure we pick the proper person.”