PJ school board removes interim tag from superintendent’s title
The Port Jefferson School District has named a new — yet familiar — superintendent.
The board of education appointed Paul Casciano as the district’s new leader at a meeting Dec. 13. The Stony Brook resident and former superintendent for the William Floyd School District had been serving as Port Jeff’s interim superintendent since July.
“I thank the board for this opportunity to serve,” Casciano said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working together with our board of education, leadership team, faculty, staff, parents and community to achieve amazing things for the children of Port Jefferson.”
Casciano was at the helm of the William Floyd district for nine years, though his background in the field of education spans four decades. He retired from that position in 2015, though accepted “an offer he couldn’t refuse,” to serve as Port Jeff’s interim leader this past summer. School board President Kathleen Brennan said she was thrilled with what she saw from Casciano during his interim period after he took over for Ken Bossert, who held the position for five years before departing to lead the Elwood school district.
“The board was impressed from the very beginning when we interviewed [Casciano] in June for the interim position,” Brennan said in a phone interview. “The board thought he’d be a great fit for Port Jefferson.”
Brennan added that Casciano told her he had no intentions of being a placeholder, even if he weren’t selected to be the district’s permanent solution for the position.
“He said he can’t sit still,” Brennan said, laughing. “We have found him to be very thoughtful. He listens more than he talks. When he does speak he’s very thoughtful. He has given the issue at hand his best work in terms of bringing suggestions to the board.”
‘We have found [Casciano] to be very thoughtful. He listens more than he talks. When he does speak he’s very thoughful.’
— Kathleen Brennan
Casciano earned a doctoral degree in educational administration from New York University. At William Floyd he began as an assistant principal in 1982 and worked his way up to superintendent by 2006. He is currently the co-chair of Rep. Lee Zeldin’s (R-Shirley) Education Advisory Committee and was also previously the president of the Rotary Club of Shirley and the Mastics. His term as superintendent of Port Jeff’s schools runs through Jan. 1, 2020.
Casciano was put to the test quickly when during the summer a voluntary test of the district’s drinking water turned up traces of lead in several areas. With Casciano leading the way, the district went above and beyond required standards and replaced fixtures that showed lead levels that were below action-level amounts in some cases, to ensure the safety of Port Jeff’s students, according to the president of an environmental consulting firm enlisted to conduct the testing.
“The district response here is at the top of the curve,” Glenn Neuschwender, president of Enviroscience Consultants, said in September regarding Port Jeff’s district-wide response.
Casciano summed up the district and board’s proactive response in September.
“Anything that protects the safety of students is worth the expense,” he said.
Brennan added that on a personal level she’s found Casciano to have a great sense of humor, and said she loves how visible he has been at student functions.
“He’s been great to work with,” she said.