TICONDEROGA — Both Ticonderoga Central School Superintendent Dr. John McDonald Jr. and Ticonderoga Middle School Principal Herb Tedford have left their positions.
McDonald, 53, submitted a letter of retirement that was accepted by the School Board on Tuesday.
At the same meeting, the board eliminated Tedford’s job as principal. Ticonderoga Elementary School Principal Elizabeth Hayes will become the sole principal at Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School.
The School Board had been expected to cut six positions in order to achieve the 2019-20 budget with a 3.97 percent tax increase that voters approved in a second vote two weeks ago.
That $22.5 million budget stayed under the state’s adjusted tax cap for the district, which was 4.33 percent. A $23 million budget with a 10 percent tax levy hike had been rejected by voters in May.
Ticonderoga High School Principal John Donohue will serve as acting superintendent, with assistance from consultant Cynthia Ford-Johnston, a former Keene Central School superintendent. Ford-Johnston will work two days a week for the district.
Board President Mark Russell said the superintendent’s post won’t be filled until 2020. He said McDonald was not asked to retire.
Several school employees took advantage of early retirement incentives that allowed the board to reduce spending, and McDonald said he was among them.
“The board was offering early retirements, and I realized I qualified,” he said in an interview Friday. “I brought it up, and they said OK.”
McDonald’s retirement is expected to save the district $150,000 to $175,000 over the last five years of his contract, which would have expired in 2024.
His last day as superintendent is today although he said he’ll be there finishing projects and doing other work.
“I think I’ve contributed to this district being successful,” McDonald said. “I love Ticonderoga, the kids, the staff, the community. But after 19 years, New York state wore me down.
"I just shook my head at (state) meetings.”
He said the budget had swelled due to insufficient state aid that hasn’t kept pace with costs, increasing numbers of special-needs students, more state mandates and increasing staff health insurance charges.
He said the elimination of the Middle School principal is part of a plan to consolidate elementary and middle school principal posts, possibly by going to a grades K through 6 and 7 through 12 structure for the district.
“We’re downsizing because of budget cuts. We’re going to one principal.”
McDonald is a 1984 graduate of Ticonderoga High School. He was assistant headmaster of Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., before coming back to Ticonderoga in 1995 as a high school history teacher, then moving to Middle School principal in 1996. He was named superintendent in July 2000.
He said he’ll probably relax for a couple of weeks after leaving the superintendent’s job.
"I’m going to figure something else out. I’m going to take some time first.”
McDonald has kept his summer job, however — as a captain with the Lake George Steamship Company.
Every weekend, he’ll be out piloting one of the firm’s massive tour boats on Lake George.
“That’s my 30th year there,” he said. “It’s a fun job.”