The Kings Park Board of Education voted 3 to 2 in favor of extending district superintendent Susan Agruso’s contract for an additional 24 months, leaving Agruso in position until June of 2015.
Board trustees Steve Weber and Liz Barrett, who both voted against the extension, read prepared statements at Tuesday evening’s meeting, both stating that Agruso should be reviewed by the board before having her contract extended.
This is only the second time in thirteen months the board did not agree unanimously on an agenda item.
Barrett, in her statement to the board, said that the board "did not conduct a thorough and fair performance evaluation of Dr. Agruso" and added that she has “trouble understanding the rush to judgment and action at this time,” said Barrett.
Weber also read a prepared statement saying that he agreed with Barrett.
"I have yet to hear a convincing reason why the vote has to happen now," said Weber, who said he would like to see a review of Agruso completed this month and if the board was still interested in extending the contract that it be put on the June 5 board meeting agenda, after the budget process was completed.
Bill Motherway, president of the board said Agruso was evaluated by the board this past spring.
“She was reviewed in March or April,” said Motherway. “We sit down as board and in this case we developed a document that laid out certain areas we felt that Dr. Agruso was very good at and some she needed to improve. And by contract we have to do it every year."
Motherway says the board will review her again in the next three months.
New York State also requires that the governing body of the school or BOCES evaluate superintendents annually.
“We evaluate her everyday,” said board trustee Tom Locascio. “We are in constant contact with her everyday, we see everyday what she does. The intel semifinalists, the performance of this district compared with surrounding districts while operating on a shoestring budget, that is a testament. I think we see the result of her work everyday."
Agruso’s contract, before the extension, was set to expire in June of 2013.
“I think the reality of the situation is that if you don’t extend the contract in the beginning of the year, I think the discussion with the superintendent is you need to find another job,” said Motherway. “It is a 12 month process to hire a superintendent.”
Many in the audience expressed opposition to the renewal, some saying they weren’t aware that a vote would take place on Agruso’s contract. Audience members who were interested in speaking were asked to wait, by Motherway, until the public comments session which takes place at the end of each meeting.
Linda Vosseller, who has a child that attends Fort Salonga Elementary said this was her first time attending a board meeting.
“I agree with Liz and Steve that there should be a full evaluation before this and it should also include feedback from the community,” she said.
"People are upset that you jammed through the contract," said Sally Pruslow, a former board member of nine years. "She has 18 months left on her contract, that's not right. They are upset tonight because you are not listening to the community."
Motherway said he received one email and two phone calls on the matter.
Others commended the job of the board and superintendent.
"I thank the board for approving Dr. Agruso's extension and that I personally think you are doing an excellent job," said Anne Carlin of Kings Park.
“We have a solid team in place,” said Locascio. “We have stability in place and the good work is going to continue.”