A longtime educator will lead the Port Jefferson school district as it searches for a permanent replacement for outgoing Superintendent Ken Bossert.
During its meeting on Tuesday night, the board of education hired Paul Casciano to serve as interim superintendent, a year after he retired as the head of the William Floyd school district on the South Shore.
“We felt that he had tremendous experience,” board President Kathleen Brennan said in a phone interview on Wednesday, referring to Casciano’s 41 years in education, from teacher to superintendent at William Floyd. “He certainly has a grasp on all levels of what it takes to run a district.”
The board hired Casciano to serve from July 1 through June 2017, during which time the board, while receiving input from staffers and other community members, will be searching for someone to work more long-term.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Casciano said although he had retired from being a superintendent, he continues to teach and work. With his wife working and his kids mostly grown, “I thought the conditions were right.”
The Stony Brook resident has education degrees from Central Connecticut State University, Southampton College, C.W. Post and New York University, according to his resume. He joined the William Floyd administration in 1982 as an assistant principal and slowly worked his way up to superintendent, a role in which he served from 2006 to 2015.
“They needed help so that they could select the best candidate to meet the needs of the school community,” Casciano said about meeting with Port Jefferson school board members to discuss the position. “It just seemed like we were all on the same page.”
He joked that Port Jefferson “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
He does not want to use his time in Port Jefferson keeping things “status quo” and just sitting back and watching, he said. He is interested in “continuing to move the district forward even if it’s in the short-term.”
“How much I personally could accomplish? I’m not sure,” Casciano said, but he hopes the superintendent who succeeds him will keep moving forward.
On a personal note, Brennan called Casciano “a very nice guy — very down to Earth.”
Bossert announced his plan to leave Port Jefferson earlier this year and become the new superintendent in Elwood. He had been at the helm for five years, during which time there have been other changes in leadership throughout the district. Tom Meehan was brought in as the elementary school principal, first on an interim basis and then as the permanent leader, then Antonio Santana and Matthew Murphy were hired as principals of the middle school and high school, respectively, when those two buildings’ combined principal, longtime leader Roseann Cirnigliaro, retired.
Both Santana and Murphy have since moved on to other schools, with Robert Neidig replacing Santana and Christine Austen replacing Murphy.
“With the current leadership team in place, I know that the district is in very capable hands,” Bossert said in his farewell letter to the community.