Nyack School Board Appoints Dr. James Montesano as New Superintendent

Montesano will step into the role on June 29, 2011; $235,000 salary

  • To clarify: the 2011-12 Nyack School budget says the superintendent's salary is $250,000. But school officials note that number is dated—$235,000 is the accurate figure.

Nyack Schools have a new Superintendent—Dr. James Montesano, who previously held the same position at schools in Paramus, NJ and comes from a family of public educators.

The Nyack School Board appointed Montesano Tuesday evening in the Nyack Middle School gymnasium to a crowd over over 200 parents, students and faculty. Montesano will permanently replace former superintendent Valencia Douglas—who —and relieve acting interim-superintendent .

Montesano will begin his duties June 29, 2011. According to the proposed 2011-12 district budget, Montesano will make $235,000 yearly, about the same as Douglas.

"The selection of a superintendent is perhaps the most important decision of any Board of Education," said Michael Lagana, the School Board's president. "We are confident that Dr. Montesano has the vision, leadership skills and dynamic personality that will ensure the success of all students."

"We're very excited, we look forward to working with him and we fully endorse him," he added.

Prior to heading Paramus schools for three years, Montesano was superintendent of Dumont, NJ schools for eight years. Earlier in his career, he taught language arts, social studies, math and science.

Montesano holds a B.A. from Lycoming College, an M.A. in Administration and Supervision from Seton Hall University and an Ed. D. from Rutgers University. Both his parents—along with several siblings—have careers in the public education system.

"It going to be my ambition to make [the Board of Education's] selection the best decision they've made," Montesano said.

"[Nyack Schools] have outstanding reputation," he added. "That by far was one component that made me recognize this was an outstanding opportunity."

Read about the selection process .

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Leanne Paluck Reiss March 30, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Thanks for getting this up so quickly. I'm curious about the reaction.
Bridget March 30, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Pat March 30, 2011 at 10:21 AM
People were very supportive of Dr. Montesano; one person questioned whether or not the Board was naming him on this particular night to avoid Cuomo's pay-cap for superintendents, but the president of the school board simply said that Dr. Montesano was being hired with a contract. The crowd, well over 200, was more concerned with the cuts to the instructional personnel. Person and person, myself included, asked them to reconsider and were told that the decisions had been made and there were no other choices. By 10:30, I asked myself why they solicit public feedback at all when they have made decisions that they feel are final; must be a legal requirement because two board members (Lagana and Clark) and the interim superintendent said, in essence, Take it and like it. Many people asked to see numbers above a 2.9 tax increase (ie, what would this look like for a homeowner?). Many people indicated that they would support a higher tax increase. No one, and I mean no one, supported this budget. If anyone in the community does, they weren't there last night. Lagana mentioned the onus (my word) of teacher pensions several times. I was surprised he didn't just turn to the retired, beloved teacher to his left (Claudette Jimerson) and call her a pariah.
Elizabeth March 30, 2011 at 10:35 AM
Curiosity about the new superintendent was what led me to attend last night's meeting. I have a 14yo and 11yo, and hadn't been in several years as things seem to have been going fairly well. (I used to attend regularly when my kids were in elementary school). I got your point that there is work to be done and changes can be made to our current political environment, but I thought Mr. Friedman's explanation of the amount of support this current state budget has statewide was very informative. I do agree that the board's hand are pretty much tied and we are going to have to stomach cuts that we don't agree with. What was particularly hard to stomach last night was the Board of Education President being so rude directly to his constituent's faces. Time and again he all but told people to shut up. Good gracious, no wonder courtesy is on the decline, if our elected officials feel it unnecessary to use the most basic kindness in addressing those who purportedly got them where they are. At least prior boards respected their constituency enough to be civil.
Pat March 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Elizabeth, there are choices. Every day. One small line item: I work in education and I paid for my own fingerprinting. But Mr. Lagana, and many school board members across the country, want you to believe that tax payers don't want an increase and it is all the fault of those "greedy unions." They want you to believe that during decades of collective bargaining, schools had NO say at all. Yes, Albany is tying everyone up right now, but Andrew Cuomo was elected because the Republican alternative was a raving lunatic. He won't last. The senior citizen who spoke late in the evening last night was trying to tell them, "Hey, look at me... I'm retired on a fixed budget and I want my taxes increased. Oh, and stop hiring overpriced consultants." They were transparent regarding instructional staff costs but absolutely quiet on administrative costs. I know there will be administrative costs -- it's a large school system and there are many, many laws we must comply with -- but other school systems, ie, Chappaqua, have cut pretty evenly over the entire spectrum of costs (and those people really pay some taxes).
Jerry March 30, 2011 at 02:50 PM
I don't want my taxes increased and I firmly beleive that a budget proposal which contained higher tax increases would be easily defeated. I would not cite the number of people who attended last nights meeting as evidence that the larger community is willing to support higher taxes. I do not blame the teachers, nor do I believe that Nyack teachers are overpaid, especially as compared to other Rockland/Westchester districts. I am not anti-union, but I wish the Union would use there considerable clout to work with State Legislators to enact more equitable revenue resources for our schools. The current Property Tax based formula's have become to crushing for a modest income family to purchase homes in this area. It is reversed now...I can afford to buy the house, but cannot afford the annual tax levy. I moved my family here from the NYC boroughs, and although I've grown to luv the community, I'm not so sure I'd recommend this today. My property and NYC income taxes would be lower than what I pay now. Home value would be a wash, perhaps even trending better for NYC. I could even deal with a couple of years of private high school payments, although NYC needs to be commended on how they have improved "choice" among there public high school options and friends of mine seem pleased with there children's public schooling choices.
Pat March 30, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Well, Jerry, there are more meetings in which you may express yourself. I have no doubt that Mr. Lagana will recruit people to attend with similar views. Whether anyone agrees or not, or wants to believe it or not, all of this is an attempt to bankrupt the schools to break unions. Everyone loves teachers, but resents their pensions. Ask Mr. Lagana. No actual numbers were shown last night. No one walked away with any idea what it would mean to their tax bills. And thankfully, as homeowners, we do have the "middle class welfare" of deducting all our property taxes from our tax returns! And I assure you that my 30% bracket far exceeds that of many of the wealthier people in this country, this county and this district who are saying, "No more."
Jerry March 30, 2011 at 06:00 PM
I can assure you I do not resent the salaries or the pensions. I am overall pleased how Nyack teachers work with the district. My issue is school funding and this is a state-wide issue. It is fairer in NYC. Perhaps NYS should adopt the Ohio state model, also a mixture of property tax and a separate school income tax. It is very transparent, as you can see exactly how much you are paying to your district for both taxes.
Pat March 30, 2011 at 07:28 PM
We need to do something, but at this particular board meeting, whenever a constituent made a similar comment they were shushed by the president and the interim superintendent. Think how flush we'd be if every corporation (ie, GE) paid taxes. Think how flush we'd be if every millionaire paid what I do. So it's not simply a structure issue; it's an equity issue.
John Gromada March 31, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Well at least we have an 8 million new library addition and a 5 million firehouse.
Lisa March 31, 2011 at 01:52 PM
The Bergen Record ran this story today regarding Dr. Montesano's decision to leave Paramus. Apparently, he felt the NJ salary cap on Superintendent's was "demoralizing" http://www.northjersey.com/news/118920489_Montesano_leaving_Paramus_for_post_in_Nyack.html Now, I'm not disputing his qualifications and from what I've heard he seems to be well regarded in both Paramus and in Dumont (where he was prior to Paramus) but given the budget crisis in this district it's a slap in the face when so many teachers and teaching assistants will be losing their jobs.
Pat March 31, 2011 at 05:27 PM
He did seem extremely qualified. But Mr. Lagana did not seem to resent anything paid to Dr. Montesano, either in salary or pension. He did, however, mention several times the burden of paying teachers' pensions. I guess Mr. Lagana drank the tea party Kool-Aid.
Septimus March 31, 2011 at 05:39 PM
By the BoE account, they "had" to act fast on the new superintendent before he went elsewhere. Then he got up and said how he had been so focused on Nyack because of what a special place it was, blah blah. I guess if the Board had not acted fast enough, Dr Montesano would have been telling a meeting somewhere else in the Hudson Valley how it was just the place he'd wanted to be because it is so "special"! Still, at that salary I would say anywhere was great. . .
Scott Walters April 04, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Since I am a laid off school teacher, I'd gladly accept a salary of $150,000....


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