Schenectady schools chief a finalist for job in Erie, Pa.

Superintendent Eric Ely declined to comment because Erie officials have not released the finalists'

Schenectady School Superintendent Eric Ely is a finalist for the superintendent of schools job in Erie, Pa.

Ely is one of three finalists to replace Jim Barker in the 13,000-student district, according to an Erie school district source.

The other two candidates are Erie Assistant School Superintendent Jay Badams and Thomas Washington, assistant superintendent for human resources in Bethlehem, Pa., the source said.

The Erie Times-News reported the three candidates’ names on its Web site today.

Ely declined comment because Erie has not released the names of the finalists.

“I would prefer not to discuss it at all. They have a process in place, like every school district does, and I will respect their process,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on rumors and leaks.”

A formal announcement of the candidates is expected Friday or Monday. The Erie district is holding three community forums on Feb. 18, Feb. 22, Feb. 23 for people to meet the finalists. The source said a decision would be made within days of the final forum.

The salary range for the position is between $160,000 and $175,000.

Last month, Ely put his four-bedroom house on Oakland Avenue on the market. He said at the time that he was looking for something smaller that would not require as much maintenance. He would not comment on rumors that he has interviewed other jobs, only saying “nobody has offered me a position anywhere.”

Ely had said he planned on being the superintendent of Schenectady through his contract expiration in June 2012. In an interview last week, he softened those comments somewhat, saying in response to questions about any job search that “I have not done a lot of looking. I’ve done some.”

Ely has taken some heat from the public since the arrest in February 2009 of former facilities director Steven Raucci, who is alleged to have planted explosive devices at homes and vandalized property of his enemies. Raucci, who was also head of the local CSEA, is scheduled to go on trial March 1.

Voters last May defeated an initial budget proposal, which called for a 4.8 percent tax increase. Ely said that if a second budget proposal were defeated, the district would automatically be forced to adopt a contingency budget with a 15.8 percent tax increase, prompting a public outcry.

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