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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Search begins for new Massena superintendent

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MASSENA - The search has started for a new superintendent in the Massena Central School District, where the salary range is listed as between $120,000 and $150,000 based on the successful candidate’s experience and training.

The position also offers “an excellent fringe benefit package,” according to the recruiting brochure, as well as a three-year contract with “renewals contingent upon successful performance evaluations.”

“They’ve advertised for what I consider to be a competitive salary,” said Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, who is facilitating the search process with the district’s board of education.

The application deadline for a letter of interest, current resume, completed application, and transcripts, certification and placement file is April 1, with the board expected to appoint a new superintendent in May. The new superintendent is anticipated to start on July 1.

“When you get to this point you’re kind of in a holding pattern and just wait for the applications to come in. My experience is people want to take their time with this sort of decision. You have to have a certain level of commitment, so it’s a serious decision. I’ve found that the applications tends to come in at the end of the application period,” Mr. Burns said.

Current Superintendent Roger B. Clough II, who had been with the district since 1995 as a teacher and administrator, had notified the Massena Central School Board of Education in June that he did not wish to renew his contract, which expires on June 30, 2013. He intends to officially tender his resignation on or about June 1, 2013.

Mr. Burns said Massena Central is the largest district in the St. Lawrence-Lewis region “by almost a thousand students.” “I think when you’re talking about a district that size, it takes some skills to (lead it as superintendent). Massena is a larger community with a lot of different constituencies. I think the board is optimistic, with the salary range being competitive, that it will be somebody who maybe has operated a larger high school or someone who has maybe been a sitting superintendent in a small school district,” Mr. Burns said.

The position has been advertised in a number of ways, he said, including a posting on the New York state Council of School Superintendents website.

“Most, if not all, who are looking at superintendencies visit that website pretty regularly. It’s a great place to go. You get a quick look at district enrollment, salary range, who to contact,” he said.

An advertisement was also placed in “On Board,” the magazine of the New York state School Boards Association, and Mr. Burns said brochures have been distributed “to pretty much the BOCES across the northern part of the state.”

Superintendents and administrators at schools within the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES region also received brochures, he said.

The board will be looking at work history, academic leadership, fiscal leadership, general leadership and vision, relationship with the board of education, communications, personal characteristics and ability to lead “at the table” negotiations in collective bargaining.

According to the brochure, district enrollment is 2,800 students spread across five buildings encompassing 440,000 square feet of physical space and 122 acres of property. They include 450 students at Jefferson Elementary School, 460 at Madison Elementary School, 496 at Nightengale Elementary School, 480 at J. William Leary Junior High School and 900 at Massena High School. The staff includes 249 instructional and 173 non-instructional personnel.

As Massena prepares to start accepting applications, two other local districts are wrapping up their superintendent search.

In Brasher Falls, the St. Lawrence Central School District has narrowed their choices down to Lisa L. Grenville and Stephan J. Vigliotti to replace Stephen M. Putman, who has served as district superintendent since 2005 and plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Ms. Grenville began working in the St. Lawrence Central School District in August 2005 when she was appointed as the elementary school principal. She took over as high school principal in September 2012 and also serves as the district’s special education director.

Mr. Vigliotti has been the superintendent of schools at the General Brown Central School District in Dexter since 2002. He is also a finalist for an upcoming superintendent vacancy at Norwood-Norfolk Central School.

St. Lawrence Central initially had 10 candidates apply for the position, and that list was narrowed own to three individuals who were brought in for community interviews with administrators, teachers and community members.

At Norwood-Norfolk Central School, Mr. Vigliotti is one of the finalists for a position currently held by Elizabeth A. Kirnie, who will be retiring at the end of the school year.

The other finalists are James M. Cruikshank and James D. Donnelly Jr. The district received 14 applications for the position.

Mr. Cruikshank currently serves as principal at A.A. Kingston Middle School in Potsdam, a position he has held since 2007.

He was previously dean of students from 2006 to 2007, director of athletics from 2002 to 2003 and a math and science teacher from 1992 to 2007. All of the positions were with the Potsdam Central School District.

Mr. Donnelly has previous superintendent experience in the Lake Placid Central School District. He currently serves at 7-12 principal and director of school improvement in the Granville Central School District, Granville, a position he has held since 2011.

Before assuming his current position, Mr. Donnelly was superintendent of schools at the Lake Placid Central School District from 2008 to 2009 and 7-12 principal at Dolgeville Central School from 1993 to 2008.

The board of education expects to conduct a final interview in early March, and they expect to name a new superintendent no later than April 1, with the new superintendent beginning duties on July 1.

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