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June 20, 2013

School chief speaks at Oneonta board meet

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — The Oneonta City School District appointed Waverly School District Superintendent Joseph Yelich, 54, as its new superintendent Wednesday at a special board of education meeting. Yelich’s starting date, by mid-summer, is expected to be finalized by Friday.

“I am very excited (about the opportunity),” Yelich said during a telephone interview. He said he was impressed during the interview process by the support the school had from the community, and felt a solid connection with members of the board. “They understand the challenges we see going forward.”

Both districts have a similar arrangement, with three elementary schools as well as a middle and high school. According to the latest school report card, the enrollment at Oneonta is 1,790. Waverly has 1,610 students. The starting salary for the three year contract is $150,000. He was making $136,500.

He will fill the vacancy that arose when Michael Shea retired last year. Retired Edmeston Central School Superintendent David Rowley has been filling the position on an interim basis.

Yelich said his decision to seek the post was as much about spending more time with his family as it was about the job. Living in Fredonia, he said, he spends about three hours each day commuting. He and his wife Lisa enjoy living in a college town, so when the opening at Oneonta arose, “I seized the opportunity,” he said.

In the two years he has served at Waverly, starting July 2011, “we’ve made some significant progress,” he said, adding he was grateful to the board and the community for their support.

The couple are beginning the process of moving to Oneonta. They have three children, with two living on their own, Kyle, 27, and Andrew, 24. Erin, 19, just finished her sophomore year at State University College at Fredonia and will be returning there in the fall.

School Board President Grace Larkin said that some of the things that impressed the board about Yelich was that he had “done his homework” about Oneonta budget issues.

“He will have a good handle on finances,” and is an “excellent fit” for the district, she said.

Yelich said his experience has prepared him for the new post. This includes 12 years as a principal at Jamestown High School, starting in Aug. 2000. At Jamestown, “we always had to find creative ways of managing programs to face the fiscal challenges of a city school environment.” He also built two budgets at Waverly, a mid-sized rural district.

He had several teaching and administrative jobs after graduating from SUNY Buffalo in 1982 with a Bachelors of Science in Education. He received his Masters in Education in 1995 and his administrative certificate from SUNY Buffalo in 1997. He completed the school district leader program at SUNY Fedonia in 2010.

At Oneonta he plans on continuing what he has found to be a formula for success including a lot of outreach and community connections.

This included a lot of outreach to service organizations. He is “a proud Rotarian,” and plans on continuing the affiliation in Oneonta. “I like the opportunity for making connections that comes from their community activities,” he said.