Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Superintendent James Hoffman has announced his resignation and will be taking over as head of the Averill Park Central School District in Rensselaer County.
“It was hard, I had a great connection to Fonda,” Hoffman said. “The district has been really good to me. Averill Park just seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.”
The Averill Park position was the only job he had applied for. He said it was not a matter of leaving Fonda-Fultonville but of going to Averill Park.
“I wasn’t anxious to leave Fonda,” Hoffman said. “I waited to the last minute to apply to the Averill Park search committee. I had to send the application to them FedEx to make the deadline.”
His decision to leave came down to three factors: Averill Park is known as one of the best school districts in Capital Region, Hoffman already owns a house in nearby Delmar, and most importantly, he wanted to be closer to family.
“My family is spread out all over the place,” Hoffman said. “My fiance works in New York City. It got to the point where it was hard to coordinate where everyone was going to be on a given weekend. Averill Park is more central.”
The Averill Park Central School District ran a long search for its new superintendent, a process that began with an online survey to see what the public was looking for in the right applicant.
“We had 22 applicants, 14 of whom were already sitting superintendents,” said Averill Park interim Superintendent Michael Marcelle. “It was narrowed down to six who were then interviewed, then narrowed again to three and interviewed again. The board selected Hoffman from those three. It’s a very rigorous interview process.”
Marcelle said Hoffman was chosen for his experience, communication skills, visibility in the community and child-centered approach to education.
Hoffman announced his resignation at Monday’s Fonda-Fultonville Board of Education meeting. Averill Park appointed him superintendent Tuesday.
Over the next few months, he will go through a transition period, staying with Fonda-Fultonville through the end of the academic year, then working with Marcelle to ease into his new position and taking full control July 1.
“The job is challenging,” Marcelle said. “He’s coming to a much larger district.”
Marcelle came out of retirement for the one-year interim stint with Averill Park to give the board time to do what he referred to as “a proper search for the right fit” and is looking forward to Hoffman taking over.
Budgetary issues also were a topic of discussion at Monday’s Fonda-Fultonville meeting. The district faces a $2.4 million cut in state aid as it crafts its 2012-13 budget. This, along with the state’s property tax cap, will result in significant cuts such as layoffs and difficulty financing the kindergarten program, according to Hoffman. The current year’s budget totals about $24 million.
He expects to encounter the same money problems in his new position with Averill Park.