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Hamburg Superintendent to step down effective Aug. 10

In a move described by several district officials as shocking, Hamburg Schools Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch is resigning from his position effective Aug. 10 citing retirement as his reason.

The surprising action took place at Wednesday’s (June 26) special meeting of the Hamburg Central School Board, a session that was held at the district’s Administrative Building. Achramovitch had been previously appointed as the district’s interim superintendent in September 2010 before eventually being approved to permanent status in 2011. Earning an annual base salary of $170,000, his contract had been slated through June 30, 2014.

Board President Dr. Joan G. Calkins, who is departing from the board after not being re-elected in May, read Achramovitch’s letter of resignation Wednesday, and the board approved the action unanimously. Various school officials congratulated and embraced Achramovitch following the brief meeting.

“I do want to enjoy retirement,” said Achramovitch, who acknowledged various tribulations that the district had encountered during the past school year, although he didn’t further detail exact reasons for stepping down. “I’m proud that (the board/district) collaborated and effectively worked through these challenges.”

The superintendent also praised Hamburg’s current top-10 ranking among Western New York schools in both academics and administrative efficiency, as noted in Business First’s classifications. Achramovitch stated that several difficulties arising recently in Hamburg included enhanced state education department requirements and newly installed tax cap limits.

Before his tenure in Hamburg, Achramovitch had most recently served as superintendent in the Greece and Ken-Ton school districts. In total, he’s worked for more than 30 years as an administrator.

Several board members expressed their surprise with the announcement, including Holly Balaya.

“I was shocked,” said Balaya, who added that she didn’t initially know the reason for the special meeting being scheduled Wednesday. “We were a top ten district. There’s a lot of positive things that happened over the last four years (of Achramovitch’s time as school chief). There’s a lot of things (that could have been) changed, but there were positives.”

Balaya noted the positive direction that Hamburg’s financial status has headed since Achramovitch’s arrival, following various monetary issues that were stated as part of a state audit in the year(s) immediately prior.

However, Wednesday’s announcement comes two days after what is being described as a meeting of disagreement between Achramovitch and three individuals who had been elected as newcomers in May to the Hamburg School Board. The meeting took place Monday and was stated as being inharmonious in nature, lasting just over 10 minutes and featuring a calm but critical account directed from Achramovitch to soon-to-be-active board members Laura Heeter, David Yoviene and Catherine Schrauth Forcucci. Additionally, two observers were noted as being present at the meeting, one of whom allegedly videotaped it.

The trio of new board members were said to have run together as part of their campaign for the May board election, as they garnered more votes than incumbent candidate Calkins and other board hopefuls. It was suggested by Schrauth Forcucci that Achramovitch’s alleged displeased statements Monday came from a “personal” place against the newly elected board officials.

Board Member Sally Stephenson said Wednesday that it didn’t come as a total surprise to her that Achramovitch stepped down. Stephenson added that she believes various performance shortcomings, as well as the ongoing lawsuit with Harris Beach representing the district, had signaled an end of sorts for the superintendent’s tenure.

Additionally, Stephenson said, the district’s plan moving forward will include a search for a new superintendent, with a committee comprised of the school board, four community members and individuals from the Hamburg Central Teachers Association. However, no other additional district officials Wednesday gave further details regarding the search.
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