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St. Lawrence Central School District names Vigliotti superintendent

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BRASHER FALLS — Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr., the outgoing superintendent of the General Brown Central School District in Dexter, has been named the new superintendent for the St. Lawrence Central School District.

He will replace Stephen M. Putman, who has held the job since 2005 and plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Mr. Vigliotti, who has overseen the General Brown school system since 2002, served as deputy superintendent from 2001 to 2002 and junior and senior high principal from 1999 to 2002.

He was also a finalist for the superintendent job in the Norwood-Norfolk Central School District.

The appointment was made following a special St. Lawrence Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. The contract’s terms are still being worked out.

St. Lawrence had 10 applicants for the position, and that list was narrowed to three who came in for interviews with administrators, teachers and community members. The search was then pared to Mr. Vigliotti and Lisa L. Grenville, who began working in the district in August 2005 when she was appointed as the elementary school principal. She took over as high school principal in September and also serves as the district’s special education director.

Board President James K. Lattimer said members chose Mr. Vigliotti because of his background.

“He has more time as a superintendent and is more seasoned,” he said, noting it was a difficult decision for the board to choose between Mr. Vigliotti and Ms. Grenville, who had more familiarity with the district.

“Both candidates were very capable, but with a long-range plan and with his experience, we thought we needed someone who could step right in and continue on where Steve Putman is leaving off,” Mr. Lattimer said.

Mr. Vigliotti said he was impressed with what he saw during his visits to the schools.

“I saw a lot of great things going on as I had the opportunity formally and informally to interact with those folks,” he said. “I see a lot of people who truly care about improving student achievement. I felt the Board of Education was committed to the same end. I felt potentially I could help them and move forward together.”

He said General Brown, with approximately 1,550 students, is slightly larger than St. Lawrence Central, but the challenges that face educators today are “transferable.”

“General Brown is still classified the same way as St. Lawrence Central would be: a high-needs rural district,” he said. “Financially, the current state of financing public education is extremely difficult for the high-needs rural districts. We have to be diligent and committed to advocating for the group of kids because unfortunately, the way our state aid system is set up right now, the students in those types of school districts are at a disadvantage.”

Mr. Vigliotti said he has been “very active in different ways” to bring equitable funding to high-needs rural districts.

“In my opinion, state aid inequities really point to one of the largest civil rights issues in our time right now,” he said. “It shouldn’t matter where they attend school. I will continue to be a strong advocate.”

St. Lawrence Central was identified in November 2011 as a School in Need of Improvement for special education students’ performance in English language arts. However, it was designated by the state Education Department “in Good Standing” for the 2012-13 school year.

Mr. Vigliotti said the district must ensure student performance remains up to the standards.

“Based on what I saw during my visits, the staff is seemingly working very diligently to try and improve things,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

The General Brown Board of Education accepted Mr. Vigliotti’s resignation as superintendent in January, effective June 30, to fill a social studies teaching position at the junior-senior high school. “After some reflection I have decided I would like to return to my roots as an educator and to teaching,” he wrote to the board.

His resignation came three years after district taxpayers chastised him over his handling of former Dexter Elementary School Principal Michael Lennox’s resignation. By February 2010, residents were told they weren’t even allowed to say Mr. Vigliotti’s name during public comment sessions at board meetings. A petition circulated before a board meeting that month calling for Mr. Vigliotti’s resignation. Nearly two months later, Mr. Vigliotti requested his contract not be extended beyond June 30, 2014.

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