Fulton County

Familiar face to lead Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville school district

Laura Campione Lawrence was chosen Wednesday as superintendent of schools for the newly merged Oppen

Laura Campione Lawrence’s career has been in flux recently.

She was promoted from deputy superintendent of the St. Johnsville Central School District to superintendent at the beginning of this school year, then saw her school district voted out of existence.

She was chosen Wednesday as superintendent of schools for the newly merged Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District, but things could have easily gone another way.

When St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah decided to merge late last year, teachers could be relatively confident that they would keep their jobs. The teacher-to-student ratio has a limited amount of play, but a district only needs one superintendent.

Oppenheim-Ephratah Superintendent Dan Russom was put on administrative leave early in the merger process after undisclosed complaints about him, which narrowed the field of potential contenders. Even so, Hamilton Fulton Montgomery BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel said in past interviews the new district could be led by Campione Lawrence, or someone totally different, hired through the usual months-long interview process.

“I’m thrilled the board of education selected me and I appreciate their unanimous support,” Campione Lawrence said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the board and the staff as we establish the new district and provide opportunities for all students to not just learn, but to excel to higher expectations.”

She was hired after an interview with the new Board of Education Tuesday night.

“The board has made an excellent decision selecting a leader to guide the new district,” Michel said. “I am confident that Ms. Campione Lawrence’s leadership will help create a new school district that will provide a 21st century education for students that far exceeds what the two former districts could have ever provided as separate entities.”

Things won’t get easier for Campione Lawrence, even now that her job is secure. She’ll have to coordinate the particulars of the merger, from where new classes will be held to who will teach them to how the students will get there.

An assistant answering phones at the high school Thursday said the new superintendent was “flying around everywhere” and was too busy to talk to The Gazette.

Before becoming superintendent, Campione Lawrence was the principal of St. Johnsville’s David H. Robbins Elementary School as well as director of special education for six years.

The Little Falls native began her education career teaching fifth grade for a year at the Hannibal Elementary School in Oswego County. From 1990-2006 she taught at the Little Falls City School District’s Benton Hall Academy.

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