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March 19, 2013

Economy causing trouble in super search

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Tough economic times could be causing the Oneonta City School District trouble in its search for enough candidates to apply for a superintendent vacancy, officials with knowledge of the situation said Monday. More could be known following Wednesday’s board of education meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. at Riverside Elementary School, the officials said.

The search was started earlier this school year following the retirement of Superintendent Michael Shea in 2012. The position is held by interim Superintendent David Rowley.

The first applications were due in late January. With only four qualified applicants from that round, the search was reopened until late February, and a few more applications were received. Those have been narrowed down to three possibilities, Board of Education President Grace Larkin said.

There is a meeting Wednesday, in executive session, with Otsego Northern Catskills Board of Cooperative Educational Services District Superintendent Nicholas Savin, who is heading the search, she said.

The poor response may mean reopening the search to make sure there are enough people to find the best candidate to run the school, she said.

The original schedule called for a new superintendent to be in place by July 1. Larkin said while that is still the goal the board may be asking Rowley to serve longer than that if needed.

Rowley said if the district needs some extra time to find a permanent superintendent he would be flexible.

Other schools in central New York are having a similar problem, he said. The number of applicants for open superintendent positions are way down.

With many schools face uncertain economic times, because of cuts to state aid over the last several years, people seem less eager to change positions. The problem is not as severe as in urban or suburban areas where a move may not require people to sell their homes and relocation.

One of the requirements for the Oneonta position is previous experience as a superintendent. In these uncertain times it remains a necessity, he said.

Also at today’s meeting, the board is expected to consider a proposal Rowley made at a meeting earlier this month to move 6th grade to middle school, as a way of closing a $1.5 million budget gap. It will allow for the cut of two staff positions.

He said he will be recommending other staff cuts at Wednesday meeting and is talking with those who might be affected before then, so did not want to be more specific Monday.

He had previously proposed cutting a physical education teacher and the German program. Those and the unannounced cuts must be finalized before a final budget to go before voters is approved at the April 26 board meeting, Rowley said.

Larkin said she was in favor of the middle school change as a necessary step to address the shortfall. She did not want to speculate on what the other board members would vote.