BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown Central School Superintendent Dr. Mark Sposato says he's unable to do his job due to philosophical differences with School Board members, and is resigning.The board majority, Sposato wrote in his resignation letter, is more concerned with individual members' issues and concerns of specific employee groups than educational excellence and fiscal responsibility."Although I believe that the school district has made significant improvements during my tenure, I feel that with the current Board of Education majority I cannot continue to be an effective leader in pursuit of educational excellence and fiscally responsible long range planning."
At least two board members agree with Sposato, with one stepping down after 16 years of service. But board President Stan Kourofsky disagreed, saying board members are working toward the district's best interests and any problems stem from differences in opinion.Sposato, who earns $147,000 yearly, is stepping down June 30. He starts July 1 as superintendent of Taconic Hills Central School District at $165,000 annually.Sposato, who has been at Beekmantown four years, said difficulties working with the majority of the School Board began last year."Since the Board of Education election of last May, there have been, and continue to be, significant educational and philosophical differences between the current Board of Education majority and myself."Furthermore, it is my opinion that the focus of the board has shifted from a strategic approach centering on educational excellence and fiscal responsibility, to one of individual board members' issues and concerns related to groups of employees. I also believe that advice given to and by current board members has the potential to place the district in serious financial jeopardy, effectively eliminating the fiscal progress made over the previous four years."
Kourofsky knew Sposato was looking for work elsewhere and said his statement is his opinion."I wouldn't say it was board members who are looking at any specific group other than they just have very strong opinions on certain pieces and policies."School board members, he said, are trying to support the district while making sure taxpayers are not driven out of their homes."We are doing the best we can to provide a sound basic education to students and still keep our tax base down, and there has been a difference of opinion on how that should be done. Dr. Sposato has been in the position of telling the board if you have extra money you can't always keep giving back and down the road that will impact you, and some board members feel if there is extra money it should be given right back to taxpayers."Kourofsky said the future of the district is solid and Sposato is "replaceable.""There is a majority of the board that are feeling the direction we have been going in has not been as good as we have hoped."But past board President Kathleen Grinberg-Funes sees it differently."I think over the past several months the superintendent's ability to pursue and try to fulfill not just his, but the administrative group's goals centering on curriculum alignment and fiscal responsibility have been very difficult with the current board majority."The district has made significant strides under Sposato's leadership, Grinberg-Funes said, and his resignation is a "big loss.""I hope the board can find someone equally of his caliber and business sense to bring into this community."Jane Donahue agreed and after 16 years is stepping down."I am not running for School Board again, because I cannot take it. It is not about the kids," she said. "These other people, all they want to do is bring up concerns about certain employee groups needing to be paid more, and we are not talking about kids and education and scores."She said board members are overstepping their boundaries."My heart is with the district and the kids, but that is not what they are there for."Donahue referred to Sposato as a "financial wizard," who cares about students and makes people accountable.
For his part, Sposato said he's most proud of the approval of $2.163 million that refurbished the Middle School gym, put in a music lab, outfitted the fitness center, installed an indoor-track floor, expanded the music program and more.Other changes under Sposato include separating Middle and High School staff, hiring additional guidance counselors and social workers and establishing a detailed budget process."When I came here I asked, 'Tell me how many people work here and show me where the money is.' Because of sloppy business practices it took almost four years to figure out where all the money is and to establish status reports for instruction for K-12 programs."Beekmantown is not the same School District. We have the best Web site in Clinton County and information is readily available for parents, who can e-mail teachers and also view students' grades online."I have truly enjoyed working with the students, faculty, support staff, administrators, and community members of the Beekmantown Central School District, and it is with regret that I submit this resignation."