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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 10, 2009

Callagy feels at home as Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s new business official

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Kevin Callagy, 52, is Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s new business official, and is excited about the job.

“We’re just thrilled he’s on board with us,” Interim Superintendent Kim LaBelle said this week of Callagy. “He has a really good handle on school operations…He’s also someone who, if he doesn’t know an answer immediately, he’s one to research that information, and he speaks to his colleagues, and comes back with a really informed response.”

LaBelle went on to say that Callagy’s references “checked out extremely well,” and that past colleagues of Callagy spoke of his strong work ethic, his commitment to education, and his fiscal responsibility.

Callagy began his work at BKW on Nov. 2, and will be paid $87,000 a year. He grew up in White Plains, N.Y., and has been building his credentials as an educator for more than 30 years.

Callagy received an associate’s degree in accounting from Westchester Community College, after which he transferred to the State University of New York College at Cortland, where he got a bachelor’s degree in physical education, and later received a master’s degree in education from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.

Callagy began his career working with special education students in various venues, including at the Special Olympics.

“It tied into what I was doing with the different places I was working, which were schools and children’s hospitals,” Callagy said. “I was very fortunate to be in the Westchester area, specifically at Westchester Community College; it was a training ground for many Special Olympics programs today…The Special Olympics are a great place for these kids to find success.”

It was Callagy’s work with the Special Olympics that led him to believe he wanted to be a teacher, he said.

He spent two years teaching physical education at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., and the following two years at the Margaret Chapman School, a school for the mentally disabled in Hawthorne, N.Y.

Callagy then worked for two years at the Matheny School in Peapack, N.J., which caters to children with severe cerebral palsy. There, Callagy took part in establishing a physical-education program.

“From there, I ended up in Stamford, New York,” Callagy said. Stamford Central School, with 400 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, was looking for a physical education teacher — a vacancy that Callagy filled in 1985.

Two years later, an opportunity arose to teach business there, and, because of the accounting classes he took at Westchester Community College, he had the business credits required for the job.

So, for the past 23 years, Callagy taught high school business education at Stamford Central School. It wasn’t until a year ago that he was certified by the State University of New York College at New Paltz to be a school district business leader.

BKW’s previous business official, Timothy Holmes, resigned this summer and took a job in another district.

Now, Callagy is responsible for fiscal oversight of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District, and is the direct supervisor of operation and maintenance, transportation, and cafeterias in the district.

“He also is playing a significant role in our building project,” LaBelle said of Callagy. “That includes monitoring financing for the project, and working with the clerk of works, to make sure all aspects of the project are covered thoroughly.”

Callagy recently helped the district acquire its final piece of state approval for the long-awaited building project. The district hopes to go out to bid on the project in late December or early January, LaBelle said.

“And, we’re in the process of starting budget preparations, which is a huge piece of his responsibility, as well as all negotiations that we do,” said LaBelle.

Callagy had his sights set on becoming a business official in recent years, and applied for jobs in many other districts, but something just felt right about BKW, he said.

“I don’t know how to describe it except just feeling comfortable, and this district looks a lot like the district I came from, but bigger,” Callagy concluded. “What I liked in coming here is, I got a sense that the district office works as a team, and that’s exactly what I’ve found over the last month here. The people here are very good at what they’re doing, and I’m very excited to be here.”

Other business

In other recent business, the BKW School Board:

— Discussed at its Nov. 19 meeting the student progress and achievement data received from the Northeastern Regional Information Center (NERIC).

All available data showed adequate yearly progress for middle and high school students, with the exception of fourth- and fifth-graders, who did not achieve a year’s growth in mathematics; and

— Has officially begun its search for a new superintendent to succeed Steven Schrade, who retired in August.

Interim Superintendent LaBelle said this week that she “absolutely” hopes to become the district’s superintendent in the end.

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