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Sag Harbor schools chief to retire in January

Katy Graves, Sag Harbor schools superintendent, announced to

Katy Graves, Sag Harbor schools superintendent, announced to staff her plans to retire, effective Jan. 6, 2020. Credit: Sag Harbor Union Free School District

Sag Harbor schools' superintendent, who oversaw the expansion of academic classes and several renovation projects, announced Tuesday that she's feeling the call of her family and will retire in January to spend more time with them.

Katy Graves' resignation will be officially accepted at the May 6 meeting of the school board, which is already looking at educational search firms to find the next superintendent, district officials said.

“Since 2014, when Katy Graves became our superintendent, she has consistently based her leadership decisions on what is best for children, fair for adults and what the community can sustain," board president Diana Kolhoff said in a news release. "On behalf of the entire Sag Harbor Board of Education, we express our sincere gratitude to our superintendent of schools for her years of diligent service and unwavering dedication to our students, our staff and our entire community.”

Graves, 58, said her passion for education is her strength and weak point because her style is being available, from weekend walks with concerned parents to 3 a.m. calls about snow removal.

"It's hard to bring a life balance to that when you have four children in Seattle and a granddaughter in Seattle and a husband who's a master chef who would like me to come home for dinner," Graves said. "I just love what I do, and I don't know how to do it at 90 percent. I just know how to do it at 150 percent."

In recent years, Graves  ushered through approval of a $10.23 million bond to purchase and renovate what was once Long Island's oldest Roman Catholic school, Stella Maris Regional Catholic School in Sag Harbor, to house business offices, prekindergarten and kindergarten classes, freeing up space in the middle school.

She oversaw voters' reversal on the renovation of athletic fields, putting in grass rather than synthetic turf after residents raised concerns about the material. She also launched more academic classes and clubs, and expanded the partnership with surrounding school districts to share services in order to save money.

Graves said her greatest accomplishment was giving staff and board members a sense of safety and value, which gives them the freedom to take risks.

She said she'll stay in Sag Harbor, which reminds her of the small, upstate village where she grew up.

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