The Schenectady school board now needs to find an interim superintendent to give it time to find a permanent superintendent.
Interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak on Wednesday announced he had accepted a job as an assistant superintendent with Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES and would leave the City School District at the end of August. The BOCES board approved his hiring Wednesday night around the same time he announced his planned departure during the Schenectady school board meeting.
Bochniak, who grew up in Amsterdam and graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1991, said he was looking forward to returning to work closer to home.
“I’m grateful for five amazing school years,” Bochniak said Wednesday night. “I’m really thrilled to be going to a position where I can serve in the community I grew up in.”
The district in recent weeks effectively restarted a superintendent search after the board failed to reach an agreement with its finalist from a search that stretched from May through March. Board members have started to discuss what shape the new search should take and how to involve the community. School board candidates in the May 18 election have differed on how open that process should be.
The board will need to find a new interim superintendent to take charge as the district hopes to welcome all students back to classrooms for a return to something at least nearing full, in-person instruction in the fall. The new leader will also manage the investment of a infusion of new state and federal aid and implementation of a budget that includes 39 new staff positions.
Bochniak took charge of the distirct just over a year ago in the wake of the abrupt resignation of former Superintendent Larry Spring. Spring is now threatening to sue the district after details of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations were publicized in the media.
Taking over at a tumultuous moment for the district, Bochniak led the district’s efforts to finish out last school year in an all-remote setting and prepare for this school year, which was rife with disruptions and restrictions due to COVID-19.
Bochniak also oversaw the controversial decision to lay off hundreds of teachers and other staff in September to brace for the potential of state aid cuts as high as 20 percent. The cuts never came to fruition. Half of the district’s school buildings were also closed and all secondary students spent much of the year learning virtually as a result of the budget cuts. The decision was criticized by some as an overreaction to threatened, not realized, budget cuts.
Bochniak joined the district five years ago as department director, overseeing data collection, federal and state reporting requirements and technology. He previously worked at the Capital Region BOCES, taught elementary school on a military base near Plattsburgh and in numerous administrative jobs at Siena College. He said he was never the best student growing up but decided to get into teaching after one of his former teachers helped him connect to his education.
“I was a lost student in Amsterdam; I was the kid who fell between the cracks,” he said. “If it wasn’t for a teacher who saw more in me than I saw in myself, I wouldn’t be here now, and that’s why I wanted to become a teacher.”