HUDSON — A Hudson City School District principal has resigned after he was told his position would be cut when the district merges its intermediate and primary schools in September.
Steve Spicer has served as an assistant principal of the Hudson City School District for 16 years. For the past seven years, he’s served as principal of John L. Edwards Primary School at 360 State St.
Spicer, 56, will be eligible to collect his retirement benefits after Aug. 31, when his resignation becomes effective.
The departure of Spicer, who is black, will leave an all-white administrative staff at the helm of Columbia County’s most diverse school district.
“My only regret in retirement is that the most diverse school district in Columbia County will no longer have any school administrators of color,” Spicer said. “And with Dr. Suttmeier and this school board having no specific plans or programs in place for future minority leadership recruitment, there won’t be any hope of another school principal of color in Hudson for many years to come.”
After Edwards closes this summer, pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students will be housed in a new wing of the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, which is under construction.
With the closing of the elementary school, Spicer decided to resign after district administrators told him his position was being eliminated from the district on March 26, he said Thursday. He submitted his resignation April 26.
School Superintendent Maria Suttmeier and the school board gave Spicer an ultimatum to submit a letter of resignation, or he would be dismissed on June 30, which would cause him to lose his health care plan and summer salary, he said.
Spicer’s position would have been eliminated effective June 30, 2018, Suttmeier said Thursday.
“The district has for some time, dating back to the 2015-2016 school year, made it known to the public that through the capital project, John L. Edwards would be closed at the end of the 2017-2018 school year,” Suttmeier said in a statement. “As a result, in order to ensure that our taxpayers are only paying for what is absolutely necessary, an elementary principal position was to be abolished.
“There is no dispute, and in fact, Mr. Spicer’s union representatives have agreed that he is the least senior elementary principal, and therefore, his position was to be abolished pursuant to New York Education Law 3013,” Suttmeier added.
Spicer did not want to retire, he said.
“I am going to miss working with the children who I love very much and the teachers and the staff and their families,” Spicer said.
The district will merge the primary and Montgomery C. Smith intermediate schools as part of the final stage of its $19.9 million capital project. Pre-K through fifth-grade students will attend the intermediate school, at 102 Harry Howard Ave., starting in September.
Second-grade students were moved to the intermediate school last September. After Edwards is closed, the building will be put up for sale.
“I would have also liked to have been here to help the children and families to get through the transition that is ahead,” Spicer said Thursday.
When district administrators informed Spicer the board will eliminate his position, Spicer, speaking through his union attorney, requested to retire, Suttmeier said.
“The district graciously agreed to allow Mr. Spicer to retire on Aug. 31, 2018, which allows him two additional months of employment and retiree benefits under the collective bargaining agreement with the Hudson Administrators Association,” the superintendent said.
In the district’s 2018-19 budget talks, school board members considered having one elementary principal, one associate principal and one dean of students, or having one elementary principal and two associate principals.
On March 12, Spicer appealed to the Hudson City School Board of Education asking to stay employed for one more year to help the students’ transition to Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School.
After leaving the district in August, Spicer will be a consultant to school districts that want to improve the cultural diversity of their staffs, he said.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.