By Andrew Wroblewski
Originally planning to leave the district by July 21, 2015, Northport-East Northport School District Superintendent Marylou McDermott had a surprising announcement to make during Monday’s board of education meeting.
In order to take care of her mother, McDermott will instead be leaving the district in just under a month’s time, on Jan. 9, 2015.
“My mother is ill and I’m her primary caretaker,” McDermott said in a phone interview. “I have to give my primary energy to her and I would never do this job [superintendent] in a part-time manner. Rather than me not being here, I decided it would be respectful to the district to have consistent leadership… I just wanted to do the right thing.”
In McDermott’s place, Thomas Caramore, former interim assistant superintendent for human resources of the district in 2012-2013, will step starting Jan. 5.
“When we brought him in here he did an excellent job and earned the respect of the staff, administration and teachers,” McDermott said. “It was very important to me that he and I had a good working relationship… Because the door is always open between us and, of course, whatever he or the district needs I will always be there to provide.”
In the meantime, as Caramore, former superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, steps in as interim, the district’s officials will continue their search for a permanent replacement. One is still on track to be hired by April 13, 2015.
On Wednesday the district’s superintendent search consultants were to host a meeting where the community was presented the results of a survey that was taken in hopes to gauge what qualities people are hoping to have in McDermott’s replacement. The meeting was to take place after press time.
“We have more than 500 residents who have taken part in this survey, which qualifies to us as great interest from the school community,” Ellen Best-Laimit, one of the search consultants and former Babylon superintendent, said in a press release. “As advisors to the board, this type of feedback is extremely useful and will be certainly used through the recruitment process.”
McDermott will leave the district in, what she said is, a financially well-conditioned state. When asked if the New York State Comptroller’s office audit of the district – which criticized it for overestimating budget appropriations by nearly $34 million over a five-year period from the 2008-09 to 2012-13 school years – had affected her decision to leave sooner than expected, McDermott said it did not.
"We're really proud of the financial shape that the district is in," she said. "We've kept all of our programs. This year we have just two fewer teachers than last - it takes a lot of strength to stand up for the district and that's what [Assistant Superintendent for Business] Kathleen Molander and I did."