The Canajoharie Central School District Board of Education appointed Onondaga educator Deborah Grimshaw as its sixth superintendent since 1920.
The board announced Grimshaw’s appointment at its board meeting last week, and intends for her to start on Dec. 1 when current Superintendent Richard Rose retires.
“It’s a really good position to go in, because when you have a community that can stand with their superintendent over time, that’s when you can have sustainable long-term improvement,” Grimshaw said.
“So for me, it’s taking where we are in Canajoharie right now and pushing forward into that next chapter.”
Grimshaw, who currently acts as assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction and special education at the Onondaga Central School District, said her transition to Canajoharie will be helped by her experience at a small school district where the school is an integral part of the community.
“You can build relationships with families and the community,” Grimshaw said. “That’s a part of my current job that I really hold dear to my heart. So it’s also exciting to be entering a district that is in such a good place right now that for me to come in and be part of the next chapter is quite an honor.”
The school board vetted more than 50 applications for the superintendent position before narrowing the applicants down to three finalists. The board is still negotiating Grimshaw’s contract, according to a Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES news release issued Friday.
Board of Education President John DeValve did not return calls for comment Tuesday. He said in the release that the board “did its due diligence in finding the right person for this point in the school’s history.”
He said that Grimshaw’s background and experience make her the “best fit for our district right now.”
Grimshaw has spent her life in the education system. She received her bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and her master’s in education and school district administration certification from SUNY-Oswego. She then went on to hold positions as a special education teacher, professional development specialist and coordinator, special education director and school principal.
Grimshaw is married and the mother of two children.
She said she plans to move to Canajoharie for her new job, and that she and her husband did a driving tour of the village Sunday.
While showing her husband the school, Grimshaw said they ran into Rose, who gave them a tour of the school’s buildings and facilities.
“One of the things I think is really exciting is the opportunity to meet a whole lot of new, wonderful people,” she said.
In the release, DeValve said the district — which includes an elementary, middle and high school — faces funding challenges, as well as the integration of common core learning standards and teacher and principal evaluations.
The rural district is operating on a nearly $19 million budget for the current school year. Declining state aid over the years has forced cuts to staff and programs and the use of $367,392 this year in the district’s fund balance.
In the two months before she begins her new post, Grimshaw said she will be developing an entry plan that will help her integrate into the community and school.
“This is a good time in my life for this,” she said.
“I’m very committed to being a superintendent. I think now is the time in education for the opportunity to be creative to think about how we meet all the goals we’re supposed to in education and yet remember that every day it’s about those students who walk through the doors.”