By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — After 18 years as Assistant Superintendent for Business, Matt Bourgeois will leave Niskayuna Central Schools in October this year. Bourgeois has accepted a position with Minisink Valley Central Schools in Orange County, NY, where he will retain the same title.
Bourgeois, who has three daughters, said the decision was largely motivated by a desire to keep his family in close proximity. His oldest is finishing a graduate degree in Philadelphia and may soon look for work in New York City, and his middle daughter studies at St. John’s University there.
“I thought it would be a good way to move down and be closer to them, not knowing where they would end up career-wise,” he said.
Interim Superintendent John Yagielski said he was glad to have advance knowledge of Bourgeois’ move, and planned to search for his replacement early enough that Bourgeois could assist with the transition.
Bourgeois said the decision was was a difficult one. His his wife will stay in Niskayuna until the end of the coming school year with his youngest daughter so she can finish middle school before the big move.
“I’d like to have some degree of crossover, so we certainly won’t wait around ‘til September,” Yagielski said.
The new Assistant Superintendent for Business will need to have a hefty skill set to replace Bourgeois.
“He’s responsible for all the budget and finance matters to the district,” Yagielski said. The district’s current budget is $77 million, and the job includes financial reporting, community outreach, and infrastructure projects.
Bourgeois also said his personal attachment to the district would make leaving tough. He recalled close collaboration and support throughout several daunting district projects.
In 2006, he guided the district through renovations at nearly every school that required voter approval and cost $94.5 million, nearly $20 million more than the operating budget of the district at that time, which he was accustomed to managing.
“It was like running two budgets all at once,” he said of the project, which required voter approval. All eight school buildings saw improvement during the renovations, including classroom additions and new heating systems at the elementary level, updates at both middle schools, and the demolition and recreation of an entire wing at the high school.
“We just did a ton of work that helped modernize the buildings and make them more attractive and conducive spaces for learning,” he said.
Bourgeois said one rather unglamourous, but important project stuck out in his mind as a symbol of how it felt to work together with friends and neighbors. At one point, he headed an effort to consolidate the district’s health care coverage, saving money for the schools and making the program simpler.
Naturally, his colleagues were worried, but he reminded them the change was for his family, too.
“As much as I know that this is the right decision for me and my family, the hardest part of making that decision was the relationships that [I’ve] built up over time with coworkers and community,” he said.
“It’s moving on from those folks that is really the hard part,” he said.
According to Yagielski, the feeling is mutual. “In terms of him as a person I can tell you this: when we internally announced that he was leaving, there was an overwhelming positive reaction for him.,” he said. “They were sad to see him go because they really care for him.”