NISKAYUNA – As the Niskayuna Central School District school board begins the task of hiring a new superintendent, it will need to decide whether it will face the effort on its own or hire a search consultant to help them, according to a state School Boards Association official.
Current Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. announced Tuesday evening to the board he would be accepting the same position with the New Hartford Central School District in Oneida County.
“It did catch us off guard,” said Kim Tully, the president of the school board.
In a letter to the school district Tangorra said he had not actively sought the position.
He could not be reached for further comment Wednesday.
The Niskayuna school board agreed June 15 to extend Tangorra’s contract until the 2024-2025 school year.
The contract, which amends an earlier contract that included 2% annual salary raises, does not specify his pay for the 2024-2025 school year, but requires the board to “examine the superintendent’s performance and appropriate compensation” prior to that school year.
Tangorra’s salary was set to reach $217,000 next school year, continuing to rise 2% each year until the board review ahead of the 2024-2025 school year. With benefits, Tangorra’s total pay would have topped $260,000 next year.
New Hartford Central School District Clerk Elizabeth Heil said she did not have Tangorra’s contract yet from the school board.
New Hartford’s previous superintendent was Robert Nole, who resigned in April after 17 years as superintendent, according to an article by the Rome Daily Sentinel. His contract with the district was set to expire in April 2022. Nole started at just over $200,000 in 2017 with a 2.25% increase every July 1 until his contract expired, according to his contract found on Seethroughny.net, a independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank. He also had additional benefits included in his agreement.
But with Tangorra set to start Oct. 6 in New Hartford, the Niskayuna school board must now try to seat a superintendent within the next few months.
The process usually takes around four months, said Barry Entwistle, the director of member relations for the state School Boards Association.
However, he said it can vary district to district.
The first step, he said, is for the school board to figure out if it wants to hire an outside agency to help them find and weed through candidates.
He said many boards have moved forward with search consultants because there are a lot of moving parts to the process.
“It’s probably one of the most important decisions the board will make,” Entwistle said.
He said a search consultant will vet people based on what the school district is looking for. He also said sometimes the public has input in the search.
Tully said the board will look to hold a special meeting to go into executive session to formulate a hiring process.
However, under state Open Meeting Laws that is not an appropriate reason for an executive session.
“It has to be focused on specific individuals, not policy,” said Kristin O’Neill, the assistant director of the Committee on Open Government.
Tully said she hopes to fill the position before October.
“If we are able to get someone in before that we would not need an interim [superintendent],” she said.
Tully thanked Tangorra for helping make the district financially sound and increasing diversity and equity.
“This work will not end with his departure, and I am hopeful that the next superintendent will work collaboratively with employees, will be fiscally responsible and will continue to advance our academic, arts and athletic programming,” she said in an emailed statement.