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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Clough one of three finalists for Fonda superintendent job

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MASSENA - The Massena Central School District could be looking for a new superintendent sooner than they expect.

Current Superintendent Roger B. Clough II is one of three finalists for a superintendent’s position with the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Montgomery County School District.

The new superintendent is expected to assume his or her responsibilities by Jan. 1, 2013, the release said.

Mr. Clough’s contract with the Massena Central School District expires on June 30, 2013, and he had already advised the board of education this past June that he did not wish to have it renewed. He intended to officially tender his resignation on or about June 1, 2013.

Because of new annual professional performance review requirements instituted this year, Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services said, should Mr. Clough get the job in Fonda, it may be difficult to find an interim superintendent until the Massena Central School District can hire a full-time person.

BOCES is currently assisting the Norwood-Norfolk and St. Lawrence central school districts in their superintendent searches. Superintendents Elizabeth A. Kirnie and Stephen M. Putman will be retiring at the end of the school year.

“There are a couple of recent occurrences that would concern me, not just with Mr. Clough’s situation, but in general,” he said, and the implementation of the APPR - the new principal and teacher evaluation system - was one of them.

“All evaluators have to be certified, which translates into many, many hours of training,” Mr. Burns said.

“The offshoot of that,” he said, “is normally if we need to obtain the services of an interim superintendent, we look to maybe local or retirees within this BOCES or maybe a neighboring BOCES. Unless they’re a recent retiree, they would have no knowledge of the new system and wouldn’t have gone through the required training.”

And, Mr. Burns said, there aren’t many individuals to choose from these days.

“Retirees are often enjoying retirement, but some are willing to do it on a short-term basis. But the pool of both superintendents and interim candidates is getting smaller every year,” he said.

Mr. Clough, who has been with the Massena Central School District since 1995, has been an administrator since 2002. He has served as a teacher, followed by stints as principal at Nightengale Elementary and J.W. Leary Junior High schools. He took over for former Superintendent Douglas W. Huntley on an interim basis in August 2008 after Mr. Huntley accepted a position with the Queensbury Union Free School District. Mr. Clough was named permanent superintendent in June 2009.

He holds a Masters of Education in school administration and supervision from St. Lawrence University in Canton. He received a Bachelors of Arts in elementary education and history as well as a Masters of Science in education from SUNY Potsdam.

Mr. Clough said that Friday that he was impressed with the district.

“I’m fortunate to be a finalist,” he said. “I think it’s a real good fit. They have a real nice district.”

The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District has approximately 1,400 students between its elementary, junior high and high schools, according to Mr. Clough.

“It’s a little bit smaller than Massena. It had to be the right fit. I was fortunate to get an interview there,” he said.

He has been through one round of interviews and has had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Patrick Michel, the interim superintendent, and members of the board of education.

“It just felt like a really good fit. The board is focused on kids and programs, something I have in my values,” Mr. Clough said.

The district has good academic programs in place, he said.

“I like the community, the facility, the district itself. The board of education is focused on kids and academics,” he said.

Mr. Clough is competing against two other finalists for the superintendent’s post in Fonda.

Dr. Berneice Brownell has served as the district superintendent for school districts in New Jersey and New York, most recently in the Eldred Central School District in Eldred. From 2001 to 2007, she was head of the Department of Education at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

She had previously served as chief school administrator, assistant principal and special education coordinator for schools in New York and New Jersey.

Dr. Brownell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the SUNY Albany and a Masters of Science in education from the College of St. Rose in Albany. She earned her Doctorate in educational leadership from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

David Halloran, the third candidate for the position, has been the high school principal for the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District since 2007. He previously served as the assistant principal at Johnstown High School for two years and taught social studies at Tamarac and Ballston Spa high schools.

Mr. Halloran holds a master’s degree in education from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. He earned his School District Administrator certification from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

The candidates are in the final stages of the interview process before the board of education makes it decision.

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