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Sun., Dec. 21
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Lowville school superintendent hired on one-year trial basis

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LOWVILLE — The Lowville Academy and Central School District’s new superintendent will have a year to decide whether to keep the job permanently.

“She wished to have the year just to make sure it will be the right fit for her and a fit for us,” said Board of Education President Thomas M. Schneeberger of Cheryl R. Steckly. “We have every confidence that she will be with us long term.”

Mrs. Steckly, who has been the elementary school principal since September 2007, was appointed last week as interim superintendent, effective Aug. 30. She will replace Kenneth J. McAuliffe, who will retire at the end of August after 32 years as a school administrator, the last 11 as superintendent.

“In our mind, it was really a no-brainer,” Mr. Schneeberger said.

The district received 29 applications for the post in March, and board members, following staff and community interviews of the top candidates, had narrowed the field to two finalists: Joanne I. Shelmidine, superintendent of Remsen Central School District in Oneida County, and Paul W. Mooney, principal of Howard G. Sackett Technical Center in Glenfield. However, the board in June decided to readvertise for the superintendent post and extend the application deadline to October, citing the desire to see whether any other strong candidates would come forward.

Mrs. Steckly, who did not apply in the initial round, at that point suggested she would be interested in the job on an interim basis, giving her the option to return to the principal post following the 2012-13 school year, Mr. Schneeberger said.

School board members had hoped to find a qualified internal candidate, and Mrs. Steckly fit the bill, already knowing the district’s culture and having earned the respect of staff and fellow administrators, he said.

“It was the best news we had had in quite some time,” Mr. Schneeberger said.

However, to be fair to the other candidates, Mrs. Steckly was interviewed Wednesday by staff and community members — with overwhelmingly positive responses — before board members decided to hire her as the district’s first-ever female superintendent, he said.

While the superintendent search has taken nearly eight months, Mr. Schneeberger said he believes the time spent was well worth it, given the result.

“We’re very pleased in how it all came together,” he said.

Mrs. Steckly, who is on vacation, and Mr. McAuliffe last week worked on a plan to cover for her absence in the elementary school through shifting job responsibilities for other employees, Mr. Schneeberger said. Board members will review the plan and consider adopting it at their meeting Monday, he said.

Mrs. Steckly was initially hired in 1984 as a teacher aide and was named a teacher the following year. She later taught for four years in Oregon before returning to Lowville Academy.

During the 2005-06 school year, Mrs. Steckly became the district’s students with disabilities program director as an intern and was appointed to that job permanently in July 2006, following completion of the education administration graduate program at SUNY Oswego. She served in that capacity until being named elementary principal.

Mrs. Steckly earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Va., and a master’s degree in education from SUNY Potsdam.

She and her husband, Edward F., a student advocate at LACS who is employed by Mountain View Prevention Services, live in the Croghan area.

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