Mont Pleasant Middle School Principal Jeff Bennett is set to leave the district at the end of the calendar year, taking a job as superintendent of Roxbury Central School near Oneonta.
The Roxbury school board approved Bennett’s hiring last month and announced he would start in the job Jan. 2. The Schenectady school board on Wednesday night accepted his resignation effective Jan. 1.
Bennett took over as Mont Pleasant principal at the start of the 2016 school year, the first year under the district’s new configuration with a trio of middle schools serving students in sixth through eighth grades. He joined the district the prior year as an assistant principal at the school.
Bennett has worked in education for over 20 years as a social studies teacher, school counselor, assistant principal and building leader. He also has a business background and owned a restaurant with his wife.
Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring on Wednesday said the district was in talks with someone from outside the district to fill in as an interim principal while the district would commence a search for a full-time replacement in the spring.
While some indicators have suggested improvements in student behavior and academics at Mont Pleasant Middle School, its proficiency scores on state English and math tests have remained stubbornly low in recent years: for each of the past two school years, only 13 percent of students scored proficient on the English test and just 6 percent of students scored proficient in math.
While leading Schenectady’s largest middle school, Bennett has continued to live at his home near Oneonta, which is close to his new position. During a public forum at Roxbury school last month, according to local news report, Bennett assured residents he would take responsibility for the school’s performance on test scores and other measures.
“With me,” Bennett said, according to a report in the Catskill Mountain News, when asked “who the buck stops with.” “I’m the leader in the building, I’m responsible for everything inside the building.”