Schenectady

Schenectady superintendent search down to one finalist after other finalist withdraws

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

The Schenectady Board of Education is down to one finalist for the district’s open superintendent position, Anita Murphy of BOCES said in a recent search update, but steps in the search process still remain.

At last week’s board meeting, Murphy, who is helping lead the search for the district, said the board had settled on two finalists for interviews with community members and school personnel but that one withdrew from contention in recent weeks. The board originally interviewed six candidates, narrowing a second round of interviews to three candidates, she said.

The board had planned to continue with a pair of finalists but the withdrawal leaves just one candidate left to move into the next phase of the search – the interviews and potential contract negotiations. Neither Murphy nor the board released the name of the remaining finalist.

Groups of teachers, administrators and members of the community will have a chance to interview the finalist sometime after the holiday break and offer feedback to the board, which may conduct another interview before deciding whether to make a job offer. The board will also have to negotiate the details of a contract if both sides agree to move forward. Murphy said it was possible the board would be ready to make a formal appointment by March 1.

Murphy left open the possibility that the board may decide not to move forward with the remaining candidate or that something happens to further delay the selection process, but she expressed hope that the process would lead to a hire.

“I truly fundamentally believe the board has done a wonderful job of finding the person who is the right fit,” Murphy said.

The district is looking for a permanent replacement to former Superintendent Larry Spring, who resigned in the spring following sexual harassment allegations. Spring, who led the district for eight years, joined the district in the aftermath of the arrest of district facilities manager Steve Raucci, who was ultimately convicted of terrorizing other employees in the district.

Aaron Bochniak, who previously held a top position at the district’s central office, has served as interim superintendent since Spring’s departure, overseeing a massive financial retrenchment in the face of the pandemic and financial challenges.

Earlier timelines envisioned naming a new superintendent by the end of the calendar year, but the board pushed back those goals to prevent a new leader joining in the midst of a difficult budget cycle. School board President John Foley on Monday said he didn’t know how long the remaining search would take but that he didn’t think it was likely a new superintendent would start with the district this school year. More likely, he said, the new superintendent would take charge ahead of next school year.

“The process will go forward in whatever form it has to take to get someone in place,” Foley said.

Any new superintendent will take over as the district seeks to rebuild support programs and grapple with the long-lasting impacts of the pandemic and limited learning opportunities. The district laid off over 400 staff members at the start of the school year and hundreds more students have missed enough school already this year to be considered “chronically absent.” It’s not clear how long a massive revenue shortfalls will continue to affect school budgets across the state.

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