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March 19, 2014

Niskayuna Central School District announces administrative restructuring plan

The Niskayuna Central School District has announced a plan for administrative restructuring for next year that relies on the strength of its current leadership team and will help close a budget gap without the loss of student programs.

March 18 Presentation on the restructuring plan [PDF]

The plan will save about $380,000 in salaries through the reduction of 3.5 full-time equivalent administrator positions. The restructuring is part of an overall recommended budget plan that Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio presented to the Board of Education on March 10.

"The retirements of key members of the district's administrative team provided an opportunity to reconsider our administrative restructure in the difficult fiscal climate," Salvaggio said. "The plan allows us to recognize and promote internal leadership that will benefit the district for years to come, utilize the strengths of current leaders, provide continuity, and support targeted areas."

The restructuring plan calls for the elimination of the administrative positions of human resources administrator, director of social studies, and the K-8 director of English Language Arts, as well as making the director of transportation a half-time position. As a result of these reductions and some retirements, current administrators will be named to new positions and many supervisory and managerial responsibilities will be redistributed across the administrative team.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction: Lauren Gemmill

Current Rosendale Principal Lauren Gemmill will become the district's assistant superintendent for educational programs and instruction, replacing Dr. Deborah Shea, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Gemmill has been the principal at Rosendale since 2008. Prior to coming to Niskayuna, she was the K-5 academic administrator for English Language Arts with the Shenendehowa Central School District.

In addition to her leadership at Rosendale, she has been part of the district team in Niskayuna that has guided the districtwide implementation of the Common Core standards and their impact on classroom instruction.

Rosendale Principal: Jean Winkler

Current K-8 English Language Arts Director Jean Winkler will become the principal at Rosendale, replacing Gemmill. Winkler has been the K-8 ELA director for six years.

In that time, Winkler has helped guide the transition to the new English Language Arts across the district's elementary schools, developing a strong rapport with elementary teachers that will serve her well in the role as elementary principal, Superintendent Salvaggio said.

Additional Changes

With the retirement of Social Studies Director Alfred Sive, current 9-12 English Language Arts Director Eva Jones will be assigned as the 9-12 humanities director. In this new role, Jones will supervise English and social studies at the high school.

Additionally, with the retirement of Human Resources Administrator Ronald Grastorf, human resources responsibilities will be assigned to current District Treasurer Kim Scheuer as a Civil Service position. Treasurer's responsibilities will be assigned within the district office. Remaining duties that are currently assigned to Grastorf will be handled by central office administrators and school principals.

The reduction of the director of transportation from a full-time to a half-time position is made possible by the district's contract with First Student Inc. for bus drivers and oversight of drivers.

"We have worked diligently to develop a plan that will result in continued strong leadership in these difficult times," Salvaggio said. "These changes will impact our district, and we will certainly miss the administrators who are retiring. Their contributions have made a difference in our community and for our students over the years, and have made Niskayuna the district it is today."

"Yet, as we undertake this transition, I am confident that we have the right people in the right roles at the right time," Salvaggio added. "The individuals who will be taking on new roles and responsibilities - and their administrative colleagues - are student-focused, collaborative, and strong leaders."

The Board of Education will be continuing its budget development through the month of March, and if necessary, into early April. Budget workshops will be held on March 18 and March 25.