The Katonah Lewisboro school board said Tuesday that it plans to hire Dr. Paul Kreutzer as the next leader of the school district at a salary of $245,000, according to Mark Lipton, vice president of the board.
In response to the and over Kreutzer's candidacy, Lipton said he hoped community members would reserve judgment until meeting the new superintendent in person.
"We have thoroughly vetted this candidate—from 40 applicants, we interviewed seven finalists, and we raked the last two over the coals. We met him several times, interviewed his board and people that worked with him and for him. We are very comfortable he has the character and ethics to do this job well," he said.
Kreutzer will replace Robert Roelle, . Michael Jumper, who has been filling in as interim superintendent, will return to his role as assistant superintendent for business on July 1.
In the district's press release, Kreutzer said, "I extremely excited about coming to Katonah-Lewisboro. The Governance Team, working with teaching staff and other stakeholders, has envisioned an ambitious long range plan for the years ahead and I am ready for the challenge. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Board, the Administrative Team, the teachers and support staff and the entire Katonah-Lewisboro educational community to achieve these important goals.”
Kreutzer's appointment was controversial from the moment school board member Peter Treyz leaked the news to the Lewisboro Ledger prior to the district's official announcement. Sandra Grebinar, teacher union president, released a statement attacking the board's choice because of Kreutzer's association with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who cut spending for education and ended collective bargaining rights for public sector employees in that state.
But Lipton said that it was the role of the superintendent to act as an agent of a school board, and the community here "should not assume his duties in New Berlin imply a personal philosophy that he will carry out here."
"In Katonah Lewisboro, collective bargaining units have rights and we support those rights," he continued. "We're a different state with different political realities. We are comfortable that he shares our point of view."
The 40-year-old Kreutzer has headed New Berlin schools for four years. His salary for the 2009-10 school year was $166,089 according to the most recent information available from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. He also received $34,660 in fringe benefits.
Kreutzer's appointment is timed to miss Governor Cuomo's enrollment-based . With the district projected to have 3,668 students enrolled in September, the K-L superintendent salary would be capped at $165,000. If the salary cap is signed into law, it would not apply until Kreutzer's contract expired in 2016.
According to Cuomo’s office, 33 percent of superintendents in New York now are paid more than $175,000. That includes 100 percent of the school chiefs in Lower Hudson Valley communities. The average local superintendent salary was above $250,000 as of May 2010, according to figures from the state education department.
Robert Roelle retired at a salary of $274,275, according to state education department data.
Kreutzer has more than 18 years of educational experience, including 11 years as superintendent, according to the district's press release. He became Wisconsin’s youngest principal at age 25 and the state’s youngest superintendent at age 29.
Lipton said personally, he thought Kreutzer would be a solid and exciting educational leader.
"Listening to him talk about education—it's like being on the edge of your seat. I was impressed that he took a district that was already improving well and took it to the next level. I hope he can do that here."