Lake Placid Middle-High School seeks two principals

WILMINGTON – The Lake Placid Central School District is ready to move forward with its search for new principals at the middle-high school.

The district’s Board of Education, which met at the Community Center in Wilmington Tuesday night, plans to use a two principal model at the middle-high school. In recent years, the school had one principal for grades 6 through 12, and an assistant principal to help with discipline.

“The ideal would be to have an elementary principal, a middle school principal and a principal at the high school, with a dean of students to help them out,” school board President Mary Dietrich said. “That, to use (school board member) Herb’s (Stoerr) analogy, is the Cadillac model. And I just don’t think that we’re at the point where the Cadillac model is reasonable.”

The 2012-13 school year began with two interim principals – Rick Retrosi at the middle school, and Greg Camelo at the high school – and school board members like Patti Gallagher said many teachers and students preferred that model. Camelo has since left his interim post, and Dietrich indicated Tuesday that the board will appoint an interim assistant principal to serve out the remainder of the school year.

The board considered four models for the elementary and middle-high schools: three principals and one dean; three principals; two principals; and two principals and one dean. Leonard Sauers, the district’s budget officer, compiled the total cost of each model.

Board members also reviewed a breakout sheet created with input from Retrosi, Camelo, LPES Principal Javier Perez and interim Dean of Students Jon Fremante. The sheet explained how much time each position puts toward pupil services, programming, facilities management and personnel services. For the three principals, professional development and faculty support took up the most time.

The estimated cost of having three principals for the entire district is $351,053.

After a brief discussion, all six of the board members present decided that having two principals at the middle-high school and one at the elementary school is the best way to move forward.

“I think that model would give our district three professionals who would be able to collaborate together and give us more flexibility as far as being able to assure that we have a principal in the building at all times,” Gallagher said.

Superintendent Randy Richards said that while it would be nice to have a permanent dean of students to handle discipline, the district can’t afford it.

School board member John Hopkinson agreed.

“Enrollment is projected to go down 10 percent or so over the next several years,” he said. “That’s going to lighten the load, probably, on teachers as well.”

Meanwhile, the board also decided to use the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services to help field applications for the two principal positions. The board briefly considered using a search firm to look for candidates, but opted to use BOCES instead because it would offer similar results.

Board member Phil Baumbach asked if the district could do the initial parts of the search on its own. Gallagher said that because the district is heading into a busy budget season, it’s a good idea for BOCES to handle the search.

District Clerk Karen Angelopoulos noted that last fall’s search for a new principal, which ended when the finalist pulled out, kept her busy.

“It’s very time consuming,” she said.

The middle and high school principal jobs will be advertised separately.