‘We are saddened’: RCSD superintendent leaving for Churchville-Chili; RCSD board promises ‘seamless transition’

RCSD superintendent moving to Churchville-Chili

RCSD superintendent moving to Churchville-Chili

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It’s a move many didn’t see coming: The Rochester City School District’s superintendent, Dr. Carmine Peluso, is leaving the district to lead the Churchville-Chili Central School District. Peluso will begin his new role on July 1, 2024, taking over for Dr. Lori Orologio, who is retiring.

Peluso was at Board of Education meetings in both districts this evening. With his departure, a lot of people are left wondering what that means for the city school district.

Peluso’s departure appears to have caught his employer by surprise. Nearly four hours after the Churchville-Chili district sent out a press release welcoming Peluso on Tuesday, the Rochester Board of Education called an emergency meeting.

“The Superintendent made the decision to go to another school district. We are saddened. We adore Dr. Peluso,” said Cynthia Elliott, president of the RCSD Board of Education.

She added: “He was doing great work here. We thought he’d be here six or seven years, so he can really see the outcome of the initiatives he began. But that’s not the case. He had to make some family decisions, and other decisions, on what was best for him and what was best for his family.”

Churchville-Chili Board of Education members Tuesday congratulated Peluso on his new role as superintendent and voted in favor of approving his contract.

“Thank you very much; the ayes have it. Thank you very much and welcome,” Churchville-Chili board member Kathy Dillon said.

Outgoing Churchville-Chili Superintendent Loretta Orologio added: “And continuing a collaborative environment to meet the needs of all students in the future. Congratulations.”

Earlier, Peluso was at the Rochester board’s emergency meeting, where Elliott says the work will not stop but there may be some delays.

Marsha Augustin: This comes as the budget is about to be unveiled and a decision is about to be made regarding the partnership with East and U of R (University of Rochester).

Cynthia Elliott, RCSD Board of Education president: Yeah, a lot of decisions that we have to make. I think that we are going to continue to move forward. We are going to vote on that Thursday night on the EPO (Educational Partnership Organization), but we are going to delay that vote right now.

So what does this mean for the Rochester City School District?

Elliott says they will move quickly to find an interim superintendent.

Marsha Augustin: It’s hard enough for you guys to recruit teachers; now you have to recruit for a superintendent.

Cynthia Elliott, RCSD Board of Education president: Right! So we have to do what we have to do, so we will do it, and we will do it with the kind of fidelity that we need to do it with, and we have to keep it moving. I think we will find the person that we need.

The Rochester Board of Education released the following statement earlier Tuesday: “I am writing about the recent news of Dr. Peluso departing our District for another opportunity. We honor and value his contributions and respect his decision for him and his family. We will ensure a seamless transition as the actions we take today are our investments in tomorrow. Our commitment to the important work of serving our school community remains unchanged.”

In a statement, Peluso said: “I am excited to become a part of the Churchville-Chili Central School District. I look forward to meeting the students, staff, and families in our schools and community. I am committed to working with the administrative team and Superintendent Orologio to ensure a seamless transition.”

Peluso has led RCSD since December 2022. He became interim superintendent in September of that year, inking a three-year deal with a $255,000 annual salary. after Dr. Lesli Myers-Small left ahead of the end of her contract.

She was the district’s seventh superintendent in 10 years.

When he accepted the city job in 2022, Peluso said: “I entered the interim role with a desire to bring stability and calm during a tumultuous time in our District.  I have experienced several changes in leadership and know the impact it has on every level of the organization. My goal since coming to this District has been to effect positive change and increase educational opportunities for all students. I love this District and am inspired by the commitment and support our team gives to students, families, and one another.” 

The President of Rochester Teachers Association, Adam Urbanski, said: “We just learned this morning that Superintendent Peluso decided to leave the Rochester City School District and accept a position with the Churchville-Chili School District as superintendent. We’re very disappointed, we valued Dr. Peluso as superintendent. He has been very competent, he has tremendous integrity, and he’s been very collaborative with all constituencies. He indicated to us that a couple of school board members have put a lot of stress on him in this job, and that he did not want to resign himself. He did not want to endure that the next couple of years, so he explored his options, and decided to leave at the end of the school year to take a new position in Churchville – Chili. A couple board members showed tremendous and frequent disrespect and interference with his ability to do his job. That motivated him to leave the position and seek a job someplace else.”

He said the teachers association did not know about the move until this morning. He hopes the board of education will keep Peluso until the end of the school year to help with a smoother transition.

Mayor Malik Evans, in a statement, said Peluso’s departure is “extremely unfortunate for Rochester.”

“It is imperative that the Rochester City School District obtain and maintain strong leadership for the young people of our city,” he said. “A successful educational system is critical to the success of Rochester, and the City stands ready to support the District as it embarks on this important transition.”

The news of Peluso’s departure comes two days before the district’s state-appointed monitor unveils the proposed 2024-25 budget. It also comes amid the district’s potential reabsorption of East High. Currently, that school has a partnership with the University of Rochester that expires in 2025. Peluso has said he wants East to be back in the district’s fold. A spokeswoman for the U of R said the school board was expected to vote at the March 28th meeting. It’s unclear what impact Peluso’s departure will have, if any, on the partnership.

The district has had eight superintendents in 12 years. Before Peluso, Dr. Lesli Myers-Small was hired as superintendent in March 2020. She left the district halfway through her four-year contract. Before Myers-Small was Terry Dade, who was superintendent for less that a year. Barbara Deane-Williams took over after Bolgen Vargas, who was the longest-serving superintendent in the last 12 years, serving for more than three years.

From 6 p.m. broadcast:

Reaction to RCSD superintendent’s move to Churchville-Chili

Reaction to RCSD superintendent's move to Churchville-Chili