VCSD Superintendent Brian Hunt to retire at the end of school year

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff
After four years as Voorheesville’s Superintendent, Brian Hunt will be retiring at the end of the school year. Here he addresses the crowd at last June’s graduation ceremony. His final event as superintendent will be this June’s ceremony.

VOORHEESVILLE — After three decades in education — 13 years as a teacher and 18 as an administrator — Voorheesville Superintendent Brian Hunt, in retirement, will face his toughest task to date: the honey-do list.

His wife, Deb, a teacher, Hunt said, is younger than he and will put in a few more years before school lets out permanently for her. “I’m going to have to learn to cook a little bit more,” Hunt quipped of one of his new retirement-related responsibilities. “I’m not a very good cook.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 2, it was announced that, at the end of the school year, Hunt, after serving as Voorheesville’s superintendent for the past four years, will retire from the school district where his teaching career began — almost. In 1988, Hunt was hired briefly by Bethlehem as a leave replacement social-studies teacher. The next year, Voorheesville hired him as a full-time social-studies teacher.

Hunt’s announcement came a week after a judge ruled Robert Baron’s suit could move forward. Baron had coached the Voorheesville girls’ varsity basketball team and is suing to get his job back. Asked if the judge’s ruling was a factor in his decision to retire, Hunt said, “Oh good grief, no; it had nothing to do with it. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, [the lawsuit] has no bearing on my decision to retire.”

Hunt, who is eligible to collect full retirement benefits, said he began contemplating retirement this past summer. “When I go on summer vacation. I start thinking about things,” he said. “I let my mind wander a little bit.”

Then, this past November, he had what he calls a “milestone” birthday, turning 60 years old. Whenever he has a milestone birthday, Hunt said, he thinks about the future and what it portends for him. The job of superintendent is all-consuming and, now, he wants the opportunity to do other things.

“I’ve sat across the desk from people who’ve retired and they say, ‘You know when it’s time,’ and for me, it’s time,” he said. “I’ve been at this for a long time; I’ve had a good career but I’m looking forward to doing other things at this point, living my life.”

As for his postretirement plans, Hunt said, they won’t include a return to any type of full-time work. “I want to have a more open schedule,” he said. Hunt plans to visit out-of-state family, to research and write, and to travel to Europe.

Career trajectory

Most of his career was spent as a high-school social-studies teacher at Voorheesville and Duanesburg, Hunt said. He made the transition to administration about 18 years ago and spent time as an elementary-school  principal in the Mohonasen and Schalmont school districts, before taking his first superintendent job in the Edmeston Central School District in Otsego County, and returning to Voorheesville four years ago.

Hunt came to teaching after a career that began in his home state of Connecticut, where he worked for a manufacturer of wet chemistry processing systems for the silicon-chip industry.

“It was interesting,” he said of the work. “I got to travel and do different things. But I was always interested in history, and people told me, ‘You know, you should be a teacher, you talk about history all the time.’”

“I’m very interested in the 19th Century,” Hunt said when asked his favorite period in history, and the revolutionary shift from an agrarian society to an industrial one that occurred during that time. “It’s fascinating to look at how people responded to that change; reacted to it; and tried to deal with it.”

Hunt eventually took the advice of people telling him he should teach, and headed west to Siena College to become certified.

The transition to administrator came about, he said, because he wanted to be a social studies department chairman and needed to be certified as an administrator. “I became a social studies supervisor and I thought my whole career was going to be social studies,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way.”

The move to principal and, eventually, superintendent, Hunt said, stemmed from an ambition to tackle new challenges, to develop curricula, and to improve programs.

Taking stock

Asked what he is most proud of from his time in Voorheesville, Hunt said, “Well for me, my number-one thing is always, what’s the program for the students; what can we do to improve the program? And I feel like we made some significant progress in that area.”

He also said that the school district is in a good financial position.

The budget, Hunt said, is one issue that has been a challenge throughout his tenure. “You can’t give everybody everything they want, unfortunately,” he said. With the state’s introduction of a tax cap, Hunt said, the expenditure side of the ledger needs to be watched closely, citing vacant positions (a secretary in the business office, a computer teacher in the elementary school, and a teaching assistant) that were were cut from this year’s budget.

Hunt’s contract with the school district has a 90-day notice provision but he wanted to give the district and school board more time than that, he said, “because the search process takes time; you’ve got to involve the staff, you’ve got to involve the community. It can’t be a rush job.”

Hunt’s last official act as superintendent will be to go to high school graduation.

“That’s a good way to end,” he said.

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