Amsterdam school chief lists goals met

Susanne Dorr, director of state and federal projects for the Greater Amsterdam School District, said

Susanne Dorr, director of state and federal projects for the Greater Amsterdam School District, said in the last few years the district has seen the creation of three of its most significant programs.

They wouldn’t have happened without the support of Superintendent Ronald Limoncelli, Dorr said.

“Ron’s support of those initiatives have been very important to the district,” she said, referring to research-based literacy programs such as Reading First, universal pre-kindergarten and magnet schools.

After 38 years in education, 22 of them with the Amsterdam district, Limoncelli will be enjoying his last day on the job Monday.

After 71⁄2 years as superintendent, Limoncelli said, he’s ready for retirement.

“I feel good that the Greater Amsterdam School District is much better off than when I arrived,” he said.

Limoncelli said the largest challenge facing the district when he took over in 2001 was financial.

“We were in trouble and needed a bailout,” he said.

The central administrators worked with local legislators and the finance department to put together a plan for the financial future of the district.

“I think the fruits of our effort are paying off,” he said.

The district joined the HFM BOCES under Limoncelli’s direction, a move that he said saved the district thousands of dollars a year.

While Limoncelli was superintendent, he helped defeat a charter school proposal, but as a result set up the first magnet school in the district. Next school year, all four of the district’s elementary schools will be magnet schools.

“Our parents now have choices; we’ll have uniforms and hopefully better results through test scores,” he said.

Limoncelli also saw the completion of a $30 million capital improvement project, a $22 million capital improvement project and was able to help pass a $62 million EXCEL project that will improve the district’s facilities, while not affecting local taxes.

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the years,” he said.

Limoncelli credits a lot of the district’s success to his good relationship with the Board of Education and the staff he works with.

“I can’t really take credit for much of this,” he said. “I’m only as good as the people I surround myself with.”

Stephanie Forsyth, director of student services and special education, said Limoncelli has allowed the staff to be creative to implement new programs such as the high school’s Alternative High School Equivalency Program.

“It’s been a pleasure working with him and I wish him all the best,” she said.

Dorr said Limoncelli has been a “true leader and a visionary.”

“On both a professional and personal note, it has been my distinct pleasure and honor to work for Ron,” she said. “He is the kind of superintendent that any central administrative person would hope to work for and I just got very lucky.”

Dorr said Limoncelli has set the stage for a smooth transition and she anticipates that the past six months of preparation will serve Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy Principal Thomas Perillo well as he transitions into his new position.

“He’s been with the district for a number of years and he understands the community and the challenges we face,” Dorr said.

Perillo said he appreciates that he was given more than six months to prepare for the new position. In that time, he was able to go through the budget process, attend meetings and learn more about personnel, curriculum and building issues.

Perillo said working for Limoncelli has been “wonderful.”

“Everything that we’ve wanted to implement in this building, he’s always been very supportive of,” Perillo said.

Perillo said Limoncelli is one of the reasons the middle school scored so well on the state exams.

Under Perillo’s guidance the middle school has gotten off the list of Schools In Need of Improvement. The school tested off the list for math last year and tested off for English language arts this year. Perillo said a large contributor to the building’s success was the institution of a Comprehensive Educational Planning Committee, which decided this year to hire a literacy coach at the middle school.

Perillo said one of his goals as superintendent will be to remove the district’s other two schools, Tecler Elementary and Amsterdam High School, from the state’s list. He wants to institute planning committees in each of the school buildings.

Perillo said another of his goals for next year will be to enhance the communication between the district’s staff and taxpayers.

“I want to open the lines of communication so everything is clear and everyone understands,” he said.

Limoncelli said he has already been hired as a part-time negotiator with HFM BOCES and plans to help out in Amsterdam during the transition. He also plans to work around the house and play a lot of golf.

“I’m retired, so I’ll do what I want,” he said.

Limoncelli had three goals for his last year as superintendent, which were to see the completion of the district’s Capital Improvement Project, see all four elementary schools become magnet schools and pass the budget, all of which were completed.

“I’m walking away feeling that we’ve achieved a lot of work together as a team,” he said. “Everyone understood their role and accepted it.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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