Skaneateles schools to extend Pastel, eliminate principal position

Gerst to take over as middle school principal, Widrick as K through 5 principal

The Skaneateles Central School District is undergoing big personnel changes this year.

The Skaneateles Central School District is undergoing big personnel changes this year. Photo by Joe Genco.

The Skaneateles Central School District will soon have only three principals in charge of its four schools.

The district will be consolidating staff and shuffling around administrators starting in February 2014, Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel announced at the Sept. 17 board of education meeting.

Starting in February, current State Street Intermediate School principal Stephen Widrick will become the district’s kindergarten through fifth grade principal. Widrick will be in charge of two buildings, State Street School (grades three through five) and Waterman Primary School (kindergarten through second grade). The buildings are about one half-mile apart by road and are both a part of the contiguous district campus, being connected by athletic fields.

Current Waterman principal Gary Gerst will take over as the new middle school principal in February relieving former district curriculum coordinator John Harmon, who is filling in for long-time principal Timothy Chiavara, who left for retirement earlier this fall. Pat Brown, the district’s kindergarten through fifth grade English language arts curriculum coordinator, will become the State Street and Waterman assistant principal, while continuing his duties as coordinator.

Shrinking the administration staff by one position makes sense for the district in light of state budget caps and declining enrollment, Pastel said. Eliminating a principal position can help the district save money in a way that will not cut programs and directly effect students.

Choosing Gerst and Widrick for their respective new roles was made easy due their past experiences, Pastel said.

Widrick started his career as a principal in charge of two elementary buildings that were seven miles apart in the South Lewis Central School District.

In a press release from the district, Widrick said that he is ready for the challenge of managing two buildings in Skaenateles. “I have no doubt that Pat (Brown) and I will be able to continue to move the elementary program forward. We both know the staff and we will find a way to utilize the staff in the most efficient and appropriate manner,” he said.

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