While the Schenectady school board discussed the latest snag in finding a new superintendent during a closed session on Wednesday, board President John Foley promised a public discussion about next steps after next week’s spring recess.
District officials on Friday announced the board was unable to reach an agreement with the lone finalist for the job. Pedro Roman, a former Schenectady school administrator and Newburgh school district official, was the only candidate to meet with community groups in one of the final steps of the process.
At the start of a special budget meeting Wednesday night, Foley said the board planned to discuss the latest response of the finalist as well as the possibility of opening negotiations with a separate candidate from the months-long search in executive session. He said those discussions would happen in closed session Wednesday night and that the board would have a public discussion sometime after the break to either detail new contract negotiations or sort through the next steps of reopening the search.
Foley ran through a litany of questions the board would need to decide if it planned to move forward with a new search process, including the timing for reopening the search and whether to adapt the nature of the search process from what the board utilized the first time around.
“When will the search begin? After the (May school board) election? After July 1 or even postponing things for a while,” Foley said, suggesting the board had a new set of decisions to make. “What kind of process best serves the interests and residents of Schenectady?”
The board as a whole did not publicly discuss next steps in the search process Wednesday night. Earlier in the week, though, candidates for the two open board seats said they think the board can do a better job of conducting a search process that includes community members and district staff.
Samuel Rose, who also ran last year, called for a far more open process, including public forums or events that give the candidate a chance to engage directly with the community as one of the finalists for the position.
“It should absolutely be open to the public,” Rose said Monday. This is not some corporate job, this is a public facing community service position.”
Erica Brockmyer, another board candidate, didn’t go that far but said she thinks the board should include community groups earlier in the process and find new channels to communicate updates to the public.
The split among the candidates underscores a broader divide over the kind of search process the board could pursue: an open process, where candidates come forward publicly at some point in the process; or a closed process, where the confidentiality of candidates is maintained throughout. The board sought to utilize a hybrid approach, including community members in developing a job description and again for small-group interviews with finalists. But after one of two finalists dropped out of the process, the board faced criticism for only presenting community groups with one finalist to interview. The Schenectady NAACP withdrew its participation in protest of the process.
Interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak earlier in the week said he wouldn’t answer questions about his ability to continue serving as interim into next school until after the board had discussed the situation.