Frustration overshadowed notes of positivity in comments made by parents, teachers and school board members during a meeting Thursday evening to discuss the Riverhead School District’s superintendent search.
While the meeting, which was held in the high school auditorium before about 50 attendees, was scheduled as an opportunity for district residents to discuss qualities they’d like to see in a new superintendent, some used the session to express frustrations with current superintendent Nancy Carney.
“I would like to see a superintendent who wants to hear from the parents,” said one frustrated mother of a kindergartner. “I know I had a meeting with Nancy Carney, it was like pulling teeth to try and get the meeting.”
Ms. Carney, who has held the position since 2010, will be retiring at the end of August.
Others said they felt Ms. Carney, who was not in attendance was uncommunicative and uncooperative with parents. However, others came to her defense, saying that after years of a having a revolving door of superintendents, it meant a lot that she put in nearly a decade of work at the school.
A frequent name raised by parents and teachers was Michael Hynes, the superintendent of the Patchogue Medford School District, who was described as someone they’d like their next superintendent to emulate. Parents called his work “progressive,” highlighting his initiatives to increase recess time for elementary school students and fighting against State standardized testing. They also said he is present and available to parents and the community and an advocate for education.
“Please clone him and hire him,” one mother said.
“We have an extremely challenging population in this district and ever changing – so we need a superintendent who can lead that and maintain a good working relationship with students, teachers, parents and other administrators in the district,” added another parent.
Parents also discussed improving special education and ELL classes as important issues as the district moves forward as well as more discussion on the impact of students “opting out” of taking State tests.
Board of Education member Gregory Meyer addressed the group at the end of the hour-long meeting, saying that the next superintendent will be an integral part of decision making with the board.
“Nancy Carney has been a major part of that [team],” he said. “I can tell you that every single one of us up here want someone like Nancy, but a little bit better.”
The meeting ended with an announcement from board member Ann Cotten-DeGrasse that the budget vote will be held in May, when there also may be an open seat on the board.
“Roll up your sleeves and join us,” she said.