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Scott looks forward to school board challenges at Norwood-Norfolk

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NORFOLK - A veteran member of the Norwood-Norfolk Central School Board of Education says he’s looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead, including the search for a new superintendent in 2013.

“I see the next three years as being pretty crucial,” Thomas W. Scott said during a candidate’s forum this week at the school.

Mr. Scott, who was first elected to a school board seat in 2003, is seeking his fourth term on the board.

“I’ve been here a long time. I’ve taught here a long time. I’ve had kids here a long time. I’d like to be here to help us become a premiere district in the north country. I want to see kids in this district get the best education they can within our constraints,” he said.

The road ahead contains challenges though, according to Mr. Scott. Among them is a search for a new superintendent in 2013.

The board will be seeking a new superintendent to replace Elizabeth A. Kirnie, whose contract expires in June 2013.

Mrs. Kirnie took over as superintendent on Dec. 18, 2006. The post had previously been held by James “Jake” Short, who took over as superintendent of the Plattsburgh City School District in summer 2006. Jay Kilcoyne served as the interim superintendent until Mrs. Kirnie arrived in the district.

Previously, Mrs. Kirnie had been director of pupil personnel services at Warwick Valley Central School.

Mr. Scott said the search for a new school leader won’t be easy. “It’s a long, involved, tedious process,” he said.

“Primarily the person needs to be an educational leader and somebody who can provide educational leadership. The person needs to be a good communicator. Having said that, it’s hard to find a person like that,” Mr. Scott said.

Norwood-Norfolk and other schools also face changes down the road from the state and federal governments, he said.

“I noticed that on the last committee the governor formed, there were no teachers, no administrators, no members of the state Regents. It was just businessmen and bankers,” he said. “I think there are so many more changes that are either our choice or forced on us.”

Among them, he said, is a focus on consolidation, which he described as “a dirty word” and a something he doesn’t favor.

“It’s one of the options we may have to go with,” he said.

Instead, Mr. Scott said, he would rather see a move, if necessary, to regional high schools.

Regionalization would involve combining students from two or more school districts into a single high school, a move that could reduce operating costs while offering more opportunities for educational and extracurricular programming.

“Canadians have been doing it for a while and they seem to survive. The problem is there’s no funding for it,” he said.

One of the school’s goals should be to work on addressing their dropout problem, Mr. Scott said.

“It’s no secret that we have a serious dropout problem. A very important aspect is to work on the dropout rate. We’re in the process of doing that, which the faculty had already done when they introduced electives. I think those are important to keep a kid’s interest. It opens up a whole variety of avenues where they might say, ‘This is interesting,’” he said.

Mr. Scott said he believes the district has done a good job in disseminating information that impacts students.

“I think we try a great deal,” he said, noting there are articles in newspapers and in the district’s newsletter, and board members’ names and email addresses are listed on the district website for those who want to contact them.

In addition, there are face-to-face meetings and phone conversations with district residents.

“I get phone calls and emails” and also meet with people at local establishments, he said.

Mr. Scott is one of two incumbents seeking reelection to the board. George D. Fulk was unable to attend this week’s forum

There were no names submitted for a third seat on the board currently held by Lisa R. Levison, who had been appointed in 2011 to fill out the remainder of Jane Peacock’s three-year term. Among the possibilities to fill that vacancy are write-in candidates or an appointment.

All seats in this year’s election are for three-year terms.

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