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Pearl River Superintendent Praises District, Explains Retirement Decision

Pearl River Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Morgano announced Monday he would be retiring at the end of this school year, his third on the job.

Tuesday he explained why he is retiring earlier than he had planned when he moved up from assistant superintendent in 2011, citing the distance from his home in Goshen. He said he had settled on getting an apartment Pearl River after attempts to find a new house for himself closer to the district did not work out. 
 
"When I took this job, there was discussion between me an the board about living here," Morgano said. "My intent was to live here, for my wife and I to sell our house in Goshen. After trying that a couple of years, we resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn't going to be. I have an apartment here. I stay here during the week and go home on the weekends when nothing major is happening here. Three years of that is enough.

"If I had found a house here ... if my wife and I were living here, I would have stayed at least three or four years. That was my original intent."

Morgano first came to Pearl River in 2003 after serving as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the Minisink Valley Central School District. He also worked in the Monroe-Woodbury School District, where he was director of special education. Morgano dismissed speculation that he was retiring due to concerns related to educational reforms in New York, including Common Core Learning Standards.

"I love the job," Morgano said. "It's a great place to work. I read on Facebook people are speculating about Common Core and the stress. I've worked in jobs with 10 times the stress. This is not a stressful place to work. The parents are supportive. The Board of Ed is supportive. We have supportive and excellent teachers and administrators. I've never found a place as enjoyable and easy to work as here.

"The administration is all highly qualified and team players. The board of ed is a great board of ed to work with. I can say that because there were boards of ed I've worked with that were not. When they are not, it's hell. (Here) we can talk things through. Most of the time they accept the things I'm recommending and provide the rationale of why. That's why they have me."

Morgano said the Common Core learning standards were not properly implemented by the state, but they could end up being a positive and one factor is how school districts adapt.'

"Having worked in special ed in a complex district like Monroe-Woodbury, that's stressful. Common Core isn't stressful," Morgano said. "Common Core is an opportunity. The state implemented poorly what could be a positive change in education, so you have to take that and make the best of it for the kids and the parents. That's an interesting opportunity to make a positive change for the kids. You are the difference between it being a positive change and a not so positive change. That makes coming to work worthwhile. The worst thing is to come to work and be bored."

Among the changes Morgano recommended was the reorganization of the administration when he first took over, essentially consolidating four jobs into three. He also encouraged including student presentations at school board meetings, saying they were a reminder why they are there in the first place. He said he has enjoyed getting to know the students and have them get to know him, even little moments such as running into a student in the community.

"They say, 'Hi Dr. Morgano,' and know who I am. For me,that means something," Morgano said. "My goal typically is to get into most of the classes in the elementary (schools) once a week. I don't always meet that goal, but I try. I get to the middle school some. I get into the high school when I can."

Morgano said he told the board of education about his decision in executive session during the meeting Jan. 7.

"The board wanted me to take some time to think about it," Morgano said. "I told them I would give it additional thought. I had given it so much thought beforehand."

"Dr. Morgano has done an incredible job in this district," said Pearl River School District Director of Human Resources and Community Services Diana Musich. "He is very well respected by parents, faculty, staff, administration and the community because he has integrity and always keeps the needs of students in the forefront. His leadership has certainly benefitted the students of this district. These are going to be big shoes to fill.  I am grateful that I have had these three years to learn from his example."

Morgano said he expected the board of education to do search for its next superintendent, something the district has not done in a long time. Morgano was hired without a search to take over when Dr. Frank Auriemma announced his retirement early in 2011. Auriemma, who had been in Pearl River Schools for 16 years before becoming the district's superintendent, was also hired without a search.

"They are going to do a search," Morgano said. "They are going to hire a search firm. We are probably going to interview several search firms. They (the school board) have not established what the basic criteria is going to be. Are they going to require a doctorate? Are they going to require the person to be a sitting superintendent?"

Morgano said he offered to stay on in the short term if a new superintendent is not in place as of July 1. He said he would only consider another professional opportunity it was within commuting distance of home and when asked about his future plans, he spoke about learning to scuba dive, spending time with his grandchildren and helping his son with home renovations. 

"I will not leave the district in the lurch," Morgano said. "I have too much invested here."
Mike January 15, 2014 at 08:21 AM
I'm not going to comment on his intentions or rationale only to say a commute from Goshen to PR is not that much of a challenge. I will comment on the puffery and accolades being hurled around about this district. The PRSD was several years ago a good district, but IMO is no longer a top district and when you look at the money being spent here, we certainly get no value. Is that Dr. Morgano's fault? No, it a district wide and systemic issue. I think it is rather interesting his comments about the BOE which apparently does not act independently, but only rubber stamps administrative decisions. I also particularly noticed the comments on Special Ed in the district. I think this is a particular area of concern and an area for great improvement by the next Supervisor. Bottom line is although our taxes are very high and administrators throughout the district make significant six figure salaries, the PRSD is at best an average school district. I hope this retirement provides the catalyst for real change a REAL FOCUS on the children in iur district, especially those with special educational needs.

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