KINDERHOOK—On October 3, Ichabod Crane Central School District Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Though she was only appointed superintendent in 2020, her retirement will conclude a nearly decade-long tenure in the district.
At the Board of Education meeting Tuesday, October 4, board President Matthew Nelson said, “Obviously we are disappointed in the news” of Ms. Guntlow’s retirement. He said that she would finish out the school year and “move on to new challenges in life.”
The board will now, once again, start the search for a new superintendent. The last time was in 2019. After that search the board hired Jason Thomson, who started in the district in February 2020 and left in June of that year.
Then Assistant Superintendent Guntlow was appointed to the top job in the summer 2020 with a contract until 2023. She started in the district as the principal at the primary school in December 2013. She moved to the central office as an administrator in 2017 and was appointed assistant superintendent in 2019.
In 2018 she was appointed assistant to the acting superintendent of schools when then Superintendent Micheal Vanyo was out of the district for medical reasons. Then she was appointed acting superintendent in the spring 2019 when Mr. Vanyo went on leave following a DWI arrest and resigned in June of that year. The district hired an interim superintendent, Lee Bordick, who served from the summer 2019 until Mr. Thomson took the position.
At the board meeting Tuesday, board Vice-President Elizabeth Phillips pointed out that Mr. Bordick had been a moderator during the 2019 search, with the committees working on the search. Ms. Phillips suggested the board look into who could help with the latest search this time.
Mr. Nelson pointed out that Ms. Guntlow will stay in the position as the board conducts the search. He said the target was to have a new superintendent in the job July 1, 2023 or maybe earlier so there is some overlap.
Ms. Guntlow did not make any comments at the board meeting but in the press release she said, “This is one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life. I care deeply for all of our students and staff and the district as a whole. It is however time for a change—to seek more balance in my life—to start the next chapter.”
Ms. Guntlow was not only superintendent during much of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the school went online and then on a hybrid on-line and in-person schedule. She also oversaw large portions of the development, design and construction phases of the project of the $27-million capital improvement project, which was just completed this summer.
“She’s certainly always stepped up when needed and took ownership of the responsibilities of the leadership role that she was graciously filling,” Lara Marotta, social studies teacher at the Middle School, said in the press release.
Also in the release, Ms. Guntlow said the Board of Education is “committed to a comprehensive and collaborative search” to find a new superintendent who “will align with the district’s mission, and the pillars of Rider Pride, collaboration, diversity and inclusion.” She said the board will soon start that process, which will include gathering input and advice from key stakeholders, including staff, families, and residents throughout the community.
“The Board of Education extends its sincere thanks and gratitude to Superintendent Guntlow for her years of service to the Ichabod Crane Central School District,” said Mr. Nelson, in the release. “At one of the most challenging times for our district, and our world, Suzanne stood up and accepted the unique challenge that comes with this role. During the transition of several superintendents, and throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic, Superintendent Guntlow provided consistency in leadership. Her steady hand ensured that the district’s administrators and staff could remain focused on their comprehensive goals and innovative initiatives, while students and their families would continue to receive the best education available in a healthy and safe environment. In short, she put students first, and we’ll be forever grateful for her efforts.”
At the board meeting, when talking about the search for a new superintendent, Mr. Nelson said it is a “lengthy process” and there is “a lot of work to do.”
Also at the meeting:
•Superintendent Guntlow thanked the board for their services as part of School Board Appreciation. •Students from the music program performed a song for the board and the students in the technology classes made gifts for each of the board members, using equipment in the new STEAM wing of the high school
•The district received a “clean, unmodified opinion” from their outside auditors, West and Company. That is the best opinion the district can receive
•Assistant Superintendent Lucas Christensen reviewed test results and the summer school program with the board. He talked about how successful that summer programs were and the board discussed how to continue those programs once federal grant money runs out
•The board also heard a presentation from the K-12 science program. The department is looking at ways to use the land around the newly installed solar panels at the school board pollinator gardens and other outdoor areas.
The next board meeting will be November 1 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email email@example.com