Superintendent looks forward, back
Although he had decided to move on, Superintendent Dan Teplesky said recently he thought that together the district “moved mountains” during his time in Granville and his move was not motivated by critics, but financial concerns.
Teplesky focused on the positive accomplishments of the district during an interview with the Sentinel, but said he felt critics had little to focus on other than the size of his salary, not his job performance.
“I wonder what Mrs. O’Brien’s (reason) for running for the board will be now?” Teplesky said of his most vocal critic of late, Pam O’Brien.
“I’ll say it again: We made some great friends, good acquaintances and a few enemies while we were here,” Teplesky said.
Those who came to the board to express dissatisfaction have, by far he said, complained about his salary.
Citizens who used to come to board meetings during budget discussions don’t come anymore.
“The ‘tax pack’ don’t come anymore. I hope it’s because they feel they can trust the board to keep the tax rate down,” he said.
“My salary has been the only voice of complaint the board has heard,” Teplesky said.
However, it was not complaints about his salary that drove the decision to forego a raise this year.
“At $150,800 and with the economy as it is and people losing their jobs, hours and days getting cut, I could not, after having a discussion with my wife, ask for a raise,” Teplesky said.
The raise he chose not to take in the 2009-2010 budget, Teplesky said, was communicated to board president Kathy Nelson and business manager Cathy Somich well before he was aware he was one of four finalists for the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District Superintendent job.
“I talked to Kathy two weeks prior to the meeting and told her the community could not support myself receiving a $6,032 raise during these economic times and Mrs. Nelson agreed with that statement,” he said.
Teplesky said he did not notify the board that he had been selected to move forward as a finalist until March 16, when he found out he was one of four in the running for the position.
“By the board meeting (March 9) I had yet to go back for a third interview,” he said. “I had no way of knowing that I was going to be one of the finalists.”
Had the RCS job failed to come through, Teplesky said he would have been in Granville without a raise; knowing he had another job lined up was not a factor in the decision because he did not know.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not going to grand stand – it’s not about me, it’s about what’s best for the students in this school district,” Teplesky said.
The district faces a tough battle in looking for its next superintendent, Teplesky said, because the market for administrators, particularly with business experience, has risen sharply over the past few years.
“I believe at the salary and benefits where I am is at the high end and I don’t believe this district can offer any additional (compensation),” Teplesky said.
However, he offered examples from other districts as examples of the rising cost of bringing in a superintendent, citing the recent hiring in Cambridge of a candidate without a doctorate or experience at a salary of $136,000. He also referred to a hiring of a candidate in Schuylerville who was also without a doctorate, but with experience, at a salary of $145,000-$150,000.
By way of comparison, “I was at $105,000 when I started here five years ago,” he said.
“Able to move mountains”
Looking back at some of the changes that took place in the district during his time, Teplesky said he thought the district had accomplished a great deal from re-writing the curriculum to replacement plans for textbooks and sports uniforms.
“We’ve had some setbacks, but we’ve always addressed the problem and moved forward,” Teplesky said.
Other district accomplishments included refining bus routes to save money, updating the district policy manual and instituting three-year budget projections to keep tax rates stable and eliminating the budgetary swings that produced spikes in the tax rates.
“Working with Bob Sheridan, we were able to simplify the budget process,” he said, “I believe that is the only reason why we were able to come in this year with a 0 percent tax increase.”
Credit for making curriculum change happen and work, he said, belonged with the teachers and building administrators, who made those changes happen with their substantial time and effort.
The recent Granville Partnership for Economic Development meeting at the school showcased the technological improvements which occurred at the school before the entire community, improvements that included getting a Smartboard into every classroom. That could not have happened without district technology coordinator Dan Nelson.
“People left here that night amazed at what we have in this school district,” Teplesky said.
The $18.5 million EXCEL aid building project will continue to improve the available technology within the school and because it was funded before the economy turned the facilities will improve at a time when many other districts face cutbacks.
“After this project the elementary school will be a 21st-centruy building,” he said.
Teplesky cited the Ken Burch Complex as example of coordinated efforts between the district and the community.
“I think it’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish with the board of education and a strong vision for the future. I believe we’ve been able to move mountains,” Teplesky said.
Teplesky said no one accomplishment over the five years stood out for him above the others.
“It’s more a combination everything; I look back at what we have done because it’s not about me, it’s about everybody who works in the district,” he said.
Teplesky said he had gone to interviews with other districts during his time in Granville, “But it’s got to be the right kind of fit,” he said.
“You can always go out and interview for a job but it does not mean that’s anywhere you want to go,” Teplesky said.
The right fit, as it turns out, is a 2,200-student district spread across four buildings with a $44 million annual budget. Although it is located just nine miles south of the Albany School District boundary, its 145 square miles are considered rural by New York State. When the posting for the Superintendent job came open Teplesky said he discussed a potential move with his wife before deciding to apply as he did with any potential move, “because you’re picking up your life, you’re not just moving for the sake of moving.”
Teplesky said he has become attached to the community in Granville and while he was pleased with what the district accomplished during his time, moving on would be difficult for himself and wife Barbara.
“It’s very difficult for us to leave Granville. We’ve put down roots here over the past five years,” Teplesky said.
The starting date for Teplesky’s new contract is July 27 with a starting salary of $157,500 including a 4 percent annual raise. RCS will pay 80 percent of health insurance costs for single coverage or 75 percent of two person coverage, the benefit will continue after retirement should Teplesky complete three years of service at the school. The RCS school district will also pay a contribution into Teplesky&rs
quo;s 403b the equivalent of 4 percent of his annual salary. Also included on the contract are moving expenses up to $4,000 and $50 monthly transportation allowance, cell phone paid for by the district and use of a district laptop computer. The draft version of the new contract is available online on the school’s website.