Springs School Fails To Get State Waiver, Hires New Interim Superintendent

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Less than a week before classes were to start at Springs School this Monday, September 9, the district hastily announced a switch in interim superintendents, because its request for a state waiver needed to keep the current leader was denied.

Interim Superintendent Dominic Mucci, who was reappointed in June to a second year in his part-time post, pending the receipt of the waiver, cannot stay in the district without it.

Jay Finello, an interim superintendent in East Islip for the past two years, will take over on Monday, the district announced in an emailed statement on Tuesday afternoon, written in advance of a special School Board meeting to be held that evening.

Mr. Mucci’s reappointment required a waiver from the State Education Department because he is under 65, retired and collecting a pension and would earn more than $30,000 in the school calendar year in his post. The district had anticipated he would receive it and, in its statement, said it was disappointed, as Mr. Mucci “provided a very steady hand.”

School Board President Liz Mendelman, in a phone interview on Tuesday, said the state informed the district on Friday that it would not get the waiver, the reason being that the state wants Springs to find a non-retired superintendent.

“Our position is part-time. We’re out on the East End. It’s no secret that recruiting an experienced part-time superintendent in this district is very challenging,” she said.

Asked about the quick turnaround plan to hire Mr. Finello, she said that the district had a contingency plan.

She said the board expected to pass a resolution Tuesday night to keep Mr. Mucci in the district on a per diem basis until Mr. Finello starts on Monday.

Mr. Finello’s appointment does not require a state waiver because he earns less than the state regulations regarding earnings for retirees. He will receive about $25,000 in the current school year and $30,000 after January 1, 2014, the district said.

The board said it has contractually required him to live in East Hampton and is reimbursing him up to $3,000 per month for rental expenses.

Ms. Mendelman said the district is delighted to welcome Mr. Finello.

“His experience, leadership style and interpersonal skills are a perfect fit for our district,” she said.

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