On his fourth day as Duanesburg’s new school superintendent, Frank Macri faced his first major decision: whether to call a snow day.
The first-time superintendent woke at 3:30 a.m. the Friday of his first week on the job, consulted with the town’s road and highway crews, monitored the frigid wind chill and learned just what it means to be the final say in a school district.
“I knew it was there, but I didn’t realize the stress that comes along with calling a snow day; that was eye-opening to me,” Macri said in an interview Friday. “It was so far probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.”
He decided in favor of a snow day on Jan. 5, citing the bitter cold and drifting snows that made conditions worse in Duanesburg than some of the districts that opened school after a two-hour delay.
Growing up in West Winfield, Macri was the son of parents who had not earned high school diplomas. His dad worked as a truck driver and his mom as the custodian of the school he attended. But they understood the importance of education and urged Macri to pursue his own studies.
“Education has always been something they struggled with and has been valued in our house and our home,” Macri said.
Heading to college, Macri envisioned a career as a professional musician — “I am not a professional musician at this time,” he pointed out with a smile. He played saxophone and joined bands, but he was drawn to education.
“My father was very clear: He said that’s great but you are going to go to college, you need to find something that works,” he said.
He studied music education in college and started as a music teacher in Salem. After meeting his wife, Macri took a job in the Lansingburgh school district in Troy, where he eventually served as a high school principal and led the district’s data analysis.
Becoming a superintendent was never his goal, Macri said. But when the Dunaesburg position opened last year after Christine Crowley announced her retirement, he threw his hat into the ring.
“I’ve never thought about being a school superintendent in the sense of this is what I want to do, I’ve always thought about being a school leader,” he said.
As a former music teacher, Macri said his greatest strength is viewing the whole of an education system, thinking about it like he would a musical production — every instrument in tune or they all suffer.
“For music teachers, we look at the grand performance, we look at the bigger aspects, all the small pieces that go into it,” he said. “For a good performance you have to have every part working together perfectly. For a school to work well, you have to have every part working well.”
Macri enters the job at the start of the annual budget season — and one that is shaping up to present tough choices in districts across the state. He said he has started to analyze the budget but that it was too early to say what types of decisions that the district will be forced to make as it hashes out a spending plan over the next months.
“We’ve already started the budget process, we’ve already had many conversations about what’s going to be in the budget, but it’s still too early to tell,” Macri said.
Macri lives in Voorheesville with his wife and four kids — ages 12, 10, 6 and 3 — and said he doesn’t plan to move them to Duanesburg.
While in school, students have a chance to explore their interests and discover their passions, Macri said, highlighting the importance of music, physical education and other programs outside the core academic subjects.
“Only in schools do we get the opportunity to try as much as we do,” he said. “For kids it’s to see what they really want to do for the rest of their lives or learn things, [so] they can have a lifelong love of learning.”