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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 18, 2008
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND The high school here has an enthused acting principal a self-described “Guilderland devotee” following a string of short-timers.
Brian McCann, who has been an assistant principal at Guilderland for 17 years, said Tuesday he was thrilled and grateful to be named acting principal. Aaron Sicotte, a Guilderland High English teacher since 2003, was appointed by the school board as acting assistant principal to take McCann’s former post.
Michael Paolino submitted his resignation late Tuesday, said Superintendent John McGuire, and the board accepted it unanimously after meeting in closed session Tuesday night.
McCann had filled in as principal since July 28, when Paolino was placed on paid administrative leave to allow the district to investigate complaints that he made inappropriate remarks. The investigation was conducted by the district’s Albany law firm, Girven & Ferlazzo, McGuire said earlier. Paolino had been appointed to the $110,000 post last September, the same night that Superintendent McGuire’s appointment was announced.
Paolino will be on paid leave until his resignation becomes effective on Dec. 31. He was not tenured but was hired on the standard three-year probationary period. McGuire declined further comment on Paolino. The Enterprise could not reach Paolino for comment yesterday.
The board appointed both McCann and Sicotte through June 30, 2009 or earlier at its discretion. McCann is being paid $114,000 annually and Sicotte is being paid $77,000; both salaries are prorated for the time in the job.
“I’ll recommend to the board these gentlemen stay until the new school year,” McGuire told The Enterprise. He doesn’t want to start recruiting a new principal until the spring, he said “to make sure what it is we’re looking for.”
McCann told The Enterprise he would be interested in a permanent appointment as principal.
The high school hasn’t had a long-term principal since John Whipple retired in 2003 after 14 years. He was replaced by Ismael Villafane who left after two years to return to Texas where he had spent decades as an educator. Frank Tedesco, a retired administrator filled in until Michael Piccirillo was appointed in the fall of 2006. He left after 20 months to work as an assistant superintendent at Saratoga Springs. Harry Kachadurian, another retired administrator, filled in until Paolino, who had worked at Voorheesville, became principal last fall.
All five had been hired from outside of the Guilderland School District.
“It was time to step up,” McCann told The Enterprise Tuesday night. “This is an outstanding building,” he said of the high school, “with outstanding people.”
McCann said he was fond of the school and attached to the staff.
Stability was needed, he said, after “events this summer...things the high school was not used to going through.” He was referring not just to Paolino’s being placed on leave but to two high school teachers Matthew Nelligan and Ann Marie McManus rallying students to protest their transfer to the middle school after a consultant found a hostile work environment in the social studies department. Nelligan resigned on Sept. 8 to work for the State Senate and McManus has settled into teaching at the middle school. Tuesday’s board meeting was the first one of the summer without student protesters.
Both McGuire and McCann praised the smooth start to the school year. “It was fantastic,” McCann told The Enterprise, “better than I could have asked for.” He credited both the students and the staff.
The high school has three assistant principals Brian Bailey and Lisa Patierne are the other two.
McCann also said he was grateful to the board for recognizing the need for trusted leadership.
“With all the changes in the last six years, the staff needs consistency and familiarity,” he said. “I’m grateful the board recognized that.”
McCann said that Sicotte is “well-respected by students and staff.” He went on, “People recognize us as long-term Guilderland devotees...It’s allowed the staff to just come in and focus on what they do for a living...It’s also impacted the students. It’s much more comfortable.”
Asked why there had been such rapid turnover of principals, McCann said each was “a separate circumstance.” He declined to speak about Paolino.
Asked about his goals by Kevin Thomas, a Guilderland High School senior interviewing him for the GHS Reporter, McCann said, “Moving Guilderland forward to where we know we belong.”