Dr. Augustine Tornatore, after his appointment as superintendent of the Riverhead Central School District on April 27, 2021. File photo: Denise Civiletti

(Updated, April 28 1:20 p.m.) Dr. Augustine Tornatore of Glen Head has been hired as superintendent of the Riverhead Central School District. He will start in the position July 1.

Tornatore, 49, is currently the superintendent of Liberty Central School District in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York. He has served in that position since July 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he was an assistant superintendent in the same district for less than a year and director of social studies K-12 for Newburgh City Schools.

Tornatore earned his Doctor of Education degree at St. John’s University in 2015, a master’s degree, profession diploma in administration at City University of New York, Queens College in 2002, a master of science degree in 1997 from City University of New York, Queens College and a bachelor’s degree in economics, business and English at Stony Brook University in 1994.

The board of education voted unanimously tonight to hire Tornatore. It authorized board school board president Laurie Downs to sign a three-year contract with the new superintendent, running from July 1 through June 30, 2024. Tornatore will be paid an annual salary of $235,000, plus benefits including health, dental, vision and life insurance and contribution of $7,500 per year into a tax-sheltered annuity.

School board president Laurie Downs, right, looks on as Dr. Augustine Tornatore signs his employment contract at the April 27 special board meeting. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Tornatore and Downs signed his employment contract at the podium during the brief special meeting called for the purpose of voting on the appointment.

In remarks after signing the contract, Tornatore thanked the board members for placing their trust in him. He also thanked interim superintendent Christine Tona for her work in guiding the district through the past year.

“I’m very proud to serve as your instructional leader going forward and also serve as an advocate for all students of the district and as steward for the taxpayers,” Tornatore said.

After the meeting ended, the new superintendent was greeted in the auditorium by administrators, teachers and community members, shaking hands with all.

“This was an excellent choice,” Downs said.

Tornatore’s hiring comes after a five-month search led by an Omaha, Nebraska search firm, McPherson & Jacobson, which the school board hired in November. The firm conducted community surveys and meetings with stakeholder groups, including students, teachers, district administrative staff, the parent-teacher organizations and Riverhead Town elected officials.

The new superintendent takes the helm after a tumultuous time in the Riverhead Central School District that saw the abrupt resignation of the former superintendent amidst controversy, the rejection of a capital construction bond proposal, two failed budget votes and a year on a contingency budget — all while a worldwide deadly pandemic that upended education, commerce, government and just about every aspect of life. See prior story.

Editor’s note: This article was updated after its initial publication to add Information about the terms of the superintendent’s contract, a copy of which was obtained from the school district today through a Freedom of Information Law request.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.