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Monday evening, Thomas Gallagher was unanimously appointed OESJ Central School District acting superintendent.

Alissa Scott
From left, Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville School Board members Cindy Breh, Neil Clark, Sue Sammons, Renee Swartz and Lee Quakenbush met Monday night to appoint Thomas Gallagher acting superintendent of the district.

Alissa Scott
Thomas Gallagher, newly appointed acting superintendent of the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville School District, introduces himself Monday night at a special board meeting. To his left is school attorney Joseph DiFraglia.


OESJ Board of Education appoints acting superintendent

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - Updated: 9:55 AM


For the C-S-E

OPPENHEIM -- The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District unanimously voted Thomas Gallagher acting superintendent for the remainder of the school year Monday.

Gallagher, 67, will immediately replace HFM BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel who had been serving as acting superintendent in replacement of former superintendent Laura Lawrence. 

Lawrence was placed on paid administrative leave in November. Because it is a personnel matter, the reason has not been disclosed.

Board of Education members Keith Handy, who voted against the decision to place Lawrence on leave, and William Lints were absent for the vote, but the remaining members approved Gallagher from a nine-candidate pool.

Michel, who was not in attendance during Wednesday's meeting, is required to assume the responsibility of superintendent in any HFM BOCES component district when the position becomes vacant, but because of his demanding schedule, advised the board to hire a full-time acting superintendent.

BOE President Susanne Sammons announced the decision to hire Gallagher during Monday's special meeting, and said his experience played a large role in her vote.

“I’m very pleased,” Sammons said after the meeting. “I think he will help us move along. He’s very knowledgeable and excited to, at leisure, move along.”

She added that though Handy was absent, he told her to tell the public that he  supports, and would've voted 'yes', to Gallagher's appointment.

Board member Renee Swartz, who had also voted against the decision to place Lawrence on leave, said she thinks Gallagher will benefit the district.

“I do feel, as the staff had reported at our last meeting, that we really need somebody there on our day-to-day basis,” Swartz said. “Somebody, a support system, for people to go to, and I believe that Mr. Gallagher is the person to do that. He is phenomenal, so hopefully we can start moving forward and having a support system there will help everybody to get us through.”

Gallagher introduced himself to an audience of about 35 people shortly after the vote.

“I’ve been in the community now for two days,” Gallagher said. “First of all, I appreciate the support of the board, but I was most impressed with staff and community members that I met during the day.”

After the brief meeting, Gallagher said his contract stipulates he will be paid $500 a day and will work daily. He said the school district will not be paying his taxes or pension.

“My wife was hired as a teacher in Vermont as a vendor, because they wanted to save on taxes and whatnot, so we’re a consulting firm together — my wife and me,” Gallagher said. “She’s the president and I’m the treasurer. At $500 a day, the board doesn’t pay any of my taxes, doesn’t pay my pension. I do all of that out of the $500.”

Gallagher said he’s looking forward to helping and serving OESJ students, parents, teachers and staff.

“What I’m trying to do is tap into the resources of what I’ve seen with the staff,” he said. “They’re very excellent people. I’m trying my best just to move them forward educationally. That’s really my goal for the short time I’m going to be here and do everything I can to serve and lend my expertise and experience to see what I can do to support their efforts.”

Gallagher began his career as a teacher and reading specialist in East Brunswick, N.J. and after teaching for 10 years, he moved into school administration serving as a central school principal. He then accepted his first superintendent’s position in Wood-Ridge, N.J. in 1984. 

In 1994, he became the superintendent of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, where he worked for eight years before moving on to become superintendent in the Rome City School District. He retired for the first time in 2007.

Since, Gallagher has served as the interim superintendent for the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union in Poultney, Vt. and the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union in Arlington, Vt. 

Gallagher is a graduate of New Jersey City University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. He acquired his administrative certification through study at Rutgers University, Monmouth University and Montclair University. He completed his coursework for a doctorate in Educational Leadership through Nova University.

His contract runs until July of this year.


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