BALLSTON SPA – After four years with the Ballston Spa Central School District, Superintendent Ken Slentz will be leaving this summer to become the superintendent at the Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District in Westchester County.
The Dobbs Ferry District approached Slentz about the position earlier this spring, and Slentz and his family ultimately decided the opportunity was right, because it gives Slentz the chance to help shape school climate and culture in a Hudson Valley district in close proximity to New York City, Slentz said Friday.
Slentz said he has nothing but gratitude for the Ballston Spa community. He hopes his legacy includes creating a value system and curriculum that ensures not only that every student can read, but can read well.
“That’s really the launching pad,” Slentz said.
The news, announced by the Ballston Spa district on Thursday afternoon, will come as a surprise to many in the community, according to Board of Education President Jason Fernau.
“The board and I understand this announcement is a surprise to our students, staff and the community,” Fernau said in a statement. “I want to emphasize that our district has a very strong leadership team and talented, dedicated staff. I want to thank Superintendent Slentz for all his contributions over the years, and I especially want to thank him for his commitment to student wellness and achievement.”
Slentz’s last day with the Ballston Spa district is expected to be later this summer.
In the coming weeks, Ballston Spa’s school board will be working to develop a process and timeline to find a new leader for the district.
“I expect the superintendent search process to include gathering input from multiple stakeholder groups, in addition to regular communication to our community on progress and next steps” Fernau said.
As superintendent, Slentz worked with the Board of Education and the administrative team to develop a strategic plan that includes strong social-emotional support for students–particularly at the elementary level, according to the district.
“Especially after the last two and a half years, because of the obstacles that students have dealt with around mental health, social-emotional well-being, and with coming to grips with everything that happened on the local and national stage, it was something we had to pay attention to to make sure kids are well and ready to learn,” Slentz said.
Slentz helped lead an initial redesign of Ballston Spa’s administrative team, which was then able to better support the implementation of a number of new initiatives at each level of schooling, according to the district.
At the elementary level, specific initiatives included a new approach to reading and a common curriculum across all four schools that includes a new social-emotional curriculum. At the middle school level, Slentz worked on the ongoing implementation of the Middle Years International Baccalaureate program focused on civic engagement opportunities for students. At the high school level, Slentz wanted students to be ready to take advantage of the growing number of interest-based and needs-based pathways to graduation that the team is continuing to develop and enhance, according to the district.
The Ballston Spa district is in good standing, with a 4-year graduation rate of 89%, according to the New York State Education Department. Dobbs Ferry is also in good standing with an 99% 4-year graduation rate, according to NYSED.
Slentz came to Ballston Spa in August of 2018 after serving as the superintendent of the Skaneateles Central School District in central New York. Prior to joining the Skaneateles district, Slentz spent five years as the Deputy Commissioner for PK-12 Education for the New York State Education Department. He has also served as a teaching assistant, as a middle school social studies teacher, curriculum coordinator, and principal as well as a superintendent at both Long Lake Central School District and West Canada Valley Central School District.
Slentz holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from SUNY Geneseo, a Master’s Degree in Education from SUNY Oswego and received Administrative Certification from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.