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Morristown Central School could lose principal and district superintendent

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MORRISTOWN — Although the academic year is just about to begin, the Morristown Central School District could soon be searching for both a superintendent of schools and a K-12 principal.

District Superintendent David J. Glover is a finalist for the superintendent’s job in the Salem Central School District in Washington County, and will have a final interview with the Board of Education there on Thursday. He is also scheduled to make a presentation to the public regarding his vision and plans for the district should he be hired, according to Salem school officials.

Mr. Glover has already been interviewed twice by Salem officials and has been identified as a finalist for the superintendent’s job, according to the district’s website.

Mr. Glover’s job search was not unexpected. Earlier this summer he offered his resignation to the school board, effective at the end of the coming school year. He stated publicly at that time that he is in the market for a new job.

While Mr. Glover’s job hunt may come as no surprise, Morristown residents and students attending Wednesday’s regular school board meeting expressed concern over the possible loss of K-12 Principal and Athletic Director Jeffrey M. Durant.

About 30 residents and students attended the meeting after hearing rumors that the board was not planning to renew Mr. Durant’s contract when it expires in September. All of those who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting praised Mr. Durant as a popular and engaged administrator, and urged the board to reconsider.

Lisa J. Whitmarsh was one of those who addressed school officials during the meeting’s public comment period. She questioned the board’s wisdom in not renewing the contract of an administrator, who in her view, has done an outstanding job during his first year on the job.

“You have a man here who has shown nothing but genuine interest in this small school, and not being from this community, that says a lot about his character,” Ms. Whitmarsh said.

Ms. Whitmarsh also encouraged the board to tell the public the reasons for deciding not to renew Mr. Durant’s contract.

“His contract needs to be renewed. He has done nothing but good for this school. The parents like him, he’s approachable and the students love him,” she said.

Board members refrained from responding to those in attendance, and after the 15-minute time period allocated for public comment, adjourned to an executive session to discuss personnel issues.

While school officials were mum on Mr. Durant’s future at the school, Mr. Durant himself said he has been informed by district officials that his one-year contract will not be renewed when it expires Sept. 17. He said he will have 30 days after that date to finish out his employment at Morristown Central.

Mr. Durant said he has asked school officials to provide a written explanation as to why his contract is not being renewed, and said he can think of nothing he has done wrong during his 12-month tenure.

“Student morale is up, staff morale is up, discipline problems are down and state test scores are continuing to rise,” Mr. Durant said.

Mr. Durant, 35, is a native of Bombay and worked as the middle school principal and athletic director at Saranac Central School until beginning at Morristown. He graduated from Salmon River Central School in 1997, Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh in 2001 and began teaching middle school social studies in the fall of 2001 at Malone Central School. In addition to taking over as Morristown’s school principal, Mr. Durant also served as the district’s athletic director.

Prior to the close of Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Durant thanked those who showed up to publicly encourage the board to keep him on staff, but said no matter what decision is made, the school board’s decision should be respected.

“These fine distinguished members of the community have been elected by you to serve you and they will make the decision that they feel is best in their heart, and they will do what they feel is best for the Morristown Central School district, students, staff and greater community,” Mr. Durant said. “So regardless of what happens, we will move forward, I just want to publicly thank everyone, but we need to keep in mind again, that these people should be respected, it’s a thankless job, countless hours, no pay,”

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