The Niskayuna Central School District will not require its next superintendent to live in town but will strongly encourage it.
The school board decided on the measure Tuesday evening during a special board meeting on the search process. Current Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra will be leaving Oct. 5 to start a new job as the superintendent of the New Hartford Central School District; interim Superintendent Juliette Pennyman will take over until a new superintendent is chosen.
A residency requirement is not something Capital Region BOCES Superintendent Anita Murphy, who is aiding the district in its search, recommends.
“That is going to take your candidate pool and lessen it significantly,” Murphy said.
Murphy also said the board had to weigh in factors such as the housing market and whether it would be easy for someone to find a home for sale in town right now.
Board President Kim Tully agreed that it shouldn’t be a requirement.
“If somebody is coming from a long distance I think incentivizing residency within the district would be wise, but again if they’re sort of in this greater Capital Region here and are already very familiar with the area in general I think it would be a misstep to say uproot your life and come 10 miles,” she said. “I do understand and respect the community’s desire for that but weighing the possibility that we could miss out on a wonderfully qualified, perfect for Nisky candidate because of that I’m willing to take the risk in not requiring it.”
Murphy said incentives don’t have to include money either, but actions like offering to take someone on a tour of Niskayuna or helping them find a home.
Board member Brian Backus said its more important to him that the superintendent be visible in the community.
During the meeting the board also reviewed what BOCES indicated were good candidate qualifications to include in a brochure it will be releasing Sept. 30 to find applicants. The qualifications stemmed from community survey and forum results. There were 536 survey responses and 62 people participated in a forum.
The top items people wanted to see in a superintendent according to the survey were:
- Someone who is a good communicator and active listener
- Someone who spent time at every level of the education system from teacher to central administration
- Someone who is open-minded and willing to collaborate and listen to all community members
- Someone who is committed to the community and participates in it
- Someone who makes student-centered decisions and is trustworthy and honest
People also said some of the top issues the next superintendent will need to address involve morale, student learning post-pandemic and building strong relationships within the community.
The board also agreed to include at least a minimum three-year contract, but indicated it could be longer depending on the applicant pool.
Murphy said people don’t typically ask for anything less than a three-year contract.