Schenectady to appoint superintendent next week

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SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady City School District Board of Education plans to appoint Anibal Soler Jr. as the next superintendent of schools on Wednesday.

The district announced Soler’s selection in a press release on Friday. The Board of Education held several closed meetings in recent weeks to conduct interviews with candidates who were expected to fill the role on a temporary basis to replace interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak.

Bochniak, who has led the district since March 2020, will leave in August for a new position as assistant superintendent with HFM BOCES in Johnstown.

“The process to find a permanent superintendent was launched in spring 2020 but was met with many challenges, especially during the height of the pandemic,” state’s the release announcing Soler’s selection.

The board was seemingly on the cusp of appointing a new superintendent in the spring before it was announced in March that the district had failed to reach a contract agreement with the sole finalist who emerged after a months-long search process.

The board subsequently grappled with whether to repeat its open search process or to conduct a closed search that would not publicly identify prospective candidates and involve the community with the process.

Capital Region BOCES Superintendent Anita Murphy, who ran the last search, told the board that an open process turns away many of the most qualified potential candidates. School officials partially blamed the open process for the district’s unsuccessful search.

District officials have been quiet in recent weeks while continuing the search, making the announcement of Soler’s pending appointment as superintendent a surprise.

Soler currently serves as the superintendent of the Batavia City School District in Genesee County. While leading the high-needs city school district since January 2020, Soler reportedly launched initiatives focused on equity, opportunity and family.

During his tenure at Batavia, Soler helped secure the district’s first My Brother’s Keeper Family and Community Engagement Grant through the state Education Department aimed at increasing the academic achievement and future preparedness of male students of color. He also ushered into the district an Equity, Inclusivity and Diversity in Education policy.

Prior to becoming superintendent of Batavia, he served as an associate superintendent of strategic alignment and innovation for the Buffalo Public Schools. He also previously worked as principal at both the elementary and secondary levels from 2009 to 2018 in both the Rochester City and Buffalo Public School systems.

Soler was honored in 2014 as a White House Champion of Change: Latino Educator under President Barack Obama for his focus on improving academic outcomes for students while serving as principal of East High School in Rochester, which was labeled as “persistently dangerous” by the state Education Department when he took on the position.

Soler began his educational career in 2000 as an art teacher and as an instructional technology teacher in the Rochester City School District.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Daemen College and  a master’s degree in educational administration from St. John Fisher College. He later earned doctorate degrees in educational leadership and administration from the University of Rochester and Manhattanville College.

Karen Corona, school district spokesperson, said Soler throughout his career has successfully led school districts that were previously designated by the state as struggling or failing to reach a level of good standing.

“He has a strong history of working with community, city and county organizations and is committed to developing partnerships with the Schenectady community,” Corona said in a prepared statement.

The Board of Education plans to introduce Soler and discuss his selection during a press conference on Wednesday ahead of his anticipated appointment as the next superintendent during the regular board meeting at 7 p.m. in the Schenectady High School Auditorium.

Multiple district officials and members of the Board of Education said they would not discuss Soler’s selection until Wednesday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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