By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — The Walton Central School Board of Education appointed former Massena Central School Superintendent Roger B. Clough II to fill its top job at its Tuesday meeting. He will take office Monday, Walton Board of Education President Judy Breese said.
The starting salary is $140,000. Massena has an enrollment of about 2,800. According to the most recent school report card about 990 students attend Walton.
Clough said “I’m very humbled and grateful that the board chose me.” He said he is looking forward to see if programs that were effective at Massena will work in Walton. This includes an alternative education school that will address the needs of “at-risk” students, who might otherwise drop out.
The appointment caps a search that began after Tom Austin retired from the post last summer. Former Walton Superintendent George Mack filled the term on an interim basis.
The district dealt with a number of issues during that time, Breese said. This included Facebook threats that led to lockouts, and a former teacher who has been charged with having sexual relations with two students.
With the emotional turmoil during that time, “I don’t know what we would have done without the kindness, compassion and experience that Dr. Mack brings to the table,” Breese said. “His help was critical.” He will be continuing to provide assistance during the transition. As a transitional administrator he will be paid $75 an hour, she said.
The search took longer than expected, for a variety of reasons unrelated to events happening at school, Breese said. She thanked Mack for serving in the post during that time.
Clough was chosen for a number of reasons, Breese said. “He had a way of connecting with all of the stakeholder groups that interviewed him during the process.” This included teachers, support staff, administrators, students and community. Other attributes included a real focus on professional development and an advocacy for shared services. His five years of of experience as superintendent at Massena means he will have “new ideas and new ways of doing things,” which will benefit the district, she said. “We have great hopes for a long and positive partnership.”
Clough notified his board of education a year ago that he did not want to return to the school for the 2013-14 school year. As was done with all candidates, the board performed extensive reference checks and found that he conducted himself professionally during his tenure. With his arrival at Walton, “I hope that all of us can move forward.”
After 16 years at Massena, where he started as a substitute teacher in 1994, Clough said it was time to make the change. He grew up in the community. He taught several elementary grades from 1999-2002. He was an elementary principal from 2002-05, and junior high principal from 2005-08 before becoming superintendent. “I brought them as far as I could,” he said.
He said he wanted to move to a smaller school and found Walton was a district that cared about “kids and curriculum.” He said he hoped to move to the community in August with his wife, a son, 8, and daughter, 11. They will be attending Walton elementary school in the fall.
Clough said he had heard about the various issues that occurred during the year and said they were something that can happen in any district. What is important is “the safety of the children.” From all that he has seen and heard on the issues, “the board has done a really good job.”
Clough got his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from State University of New York at Potsdam in 1993. He got his master’s in education from the same school in 1998 and received his master’s in school administration and supervision from St. Lawrence University at Canton in 2002.