RCS superintendent to retire

Elisabeth Smith spends one turbulent year in top spot

— After less than one year in her position as Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District superintendent, Elisabeth Smith has opted to retire.

Smith has been with the district since 2003, when she was hired as principal of Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School, after being a longtime teacher in the Bethlehem Central School District. She was appointed interim superintendent in August of 2011, before being named superintendent in December.

“The decision to retire is always a difficult one, but I wanted to do new things with my career,” she said.

Her decision to retire was announced at the district’s Tuesday, Aug. 21, Board of Education meeting. She will remain in her position until Nov. 20, but has said she would stay on for a little while longer if necessary.

Smith said her decision to leave had nothing to do with the recent tumultuous events within the district.

“I think my decision was more that I feel ready at this point to make a career change using my knowledge and experience from working within the district,” Smith said.

In recent months, Board of Education Chairman John Vadney was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of aggravated harassment over an argument with the father of a fellow school board member, while another school board member declared himself a sovereign citizen and refused to pay his taxes. The Vadney family has also filed a lawsuit against the district and several staff members over an incident in which their son was bullied, while the state Education Department is reviewing allegations of voter fraud occurring during the May budget vote. The vote was also the first time in three years the budget was passed on the first attempt.

Smith does not have a job lined up, but said she would look for a consultant position in school district improvement. She will continue to live within the area.

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