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The Washington County school board will take its time to find a replacement

April 30, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Ten years after he signed his first contract with the Washington County Board of Education, Schools Superintendent Wayne Gersen has announced he's taking the top post at a New York state school system.

Gersen, 50, told the school board Tuesday that he has accepted a job as superintendent of schools with Wappingers Central School District in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., effective July 1, said Board Vice President Robert Kline.

Gersen was visiting the Wappingers Central School District this morning and could not be reached for comment, according to secretary Susan Phillips.

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Wappingers Central School District, about an hour and a half north of New York City, has a little over 11,000 students at 14 schools, Phillips said.

The fifth-largest central school district in New York state, it had a budget of nearly $98 million this year, she said.

By comparison, Washington County has more than 19,000 students at 44 schools and a budget of nearly $96.3 million.

The announcement came as no surprise, Kline said, because Gersen had told the school board last month that he had applied for several superintendent jobs, including three in Pennsylvania school districts.

The board made no attempt to convince him to stay, Kline said.

Kline said Gersen didn't express any dissatisfaction with his current post but said the new job would put him closer to family, including two brothers and a daughter away at college.

Gersen and his wife, Carol, have two daughters, Elyssa and Hannah.

The job also pays more money, Kline said.

"He has to look for his future," he said.

Gersen earns $90,200 as Washington County schools superintendent. His current contract runs until 1999.

Gersen will be on the job here until June 30, Kline said. An interim superintendent will be appointed if a replacement is not found by that date, he said.

Earlier this month, Board President Marie Byers said Gersen told her he was looking for a smaller school district with a higher paycheck.

The Washington County Board of Education can't meet either need, she said.

"He really wants more money, and there's no way we can pay more," Byers said.

Gersen said last month that he began to apply for "very few" jobs after his youngest daughter graduated from Boonsboro High School last year.

At that time, he played down the compensation, saying he was more interested in being able to try out things that have worked in Washington County.

Gersen said he was looking for a smaller school district because he enjoyed working with principals and classroom teachers.

Gersen headed school systems in Bethel, Maine, and Exeter, N.H., before becoming Washington County schools chief in June 1987 for $70,000 a year.

The Exeter school system had about 3,400 students.

While they have had their differences in the past three years, Kline said there have been improvements in the school system during Gersen's 10-year tenure, including rising test scores.

Under Gersen's leadership, the Washington County Public Schools have shown significant growth in many areas, according to spokeswoman Bonnie Martin.

Highlights of the past decade include:

- Development of the essential curriculum for all grade levels in all content areas.

- Receipt of more than $15 million in state matching funds for new construction and systemic renovation projects.

- Expansion of the prekindergarten program from about 150 students five years ago to 430 today.

- Institution of the Project Challenge Program to meet the needs of gifted and talented elementary students.

- Conversion of the Career Studies Center to a comprehensive high school.

- Expansion of the elementary counseling program.

- Expansion of alternative programs for secondary students by making the Alternative Learning Center a full-day program, expanding enrollment at the Evening High School and increasing enrollments in adult education.

- An increased percentage of students taking the SAT, from 36 to 50 percent.

- An increased number of students taking Advanced Placement tests, from 114 in fiscal year 1991 to 228 in 1997, and in the number of tests administered from 151 in 1991 to 344 in 1997.

- Construction of Eastern Elementary and replacement of Paramount Elementary.

- Completion or initiation of building additions at seven elementary schools and one high school and the updating of five science labs.

- Installation of a Wide Area Network to provide Internet access to all Washington County Public Schools.

- Expansion of the before- and after-school child care centers from one in 1987 to 23 today.

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