Three Oswego County school districts search for new superintendents

OSWEGO — Of the county’s nine school districts, three lost their superintendents at the end of this school year — one to retirement and two to other opportunities in other districts. The following is a rundown of where those districts are at in their quest for new leaders.

Oswego City School District’s Dean Goewey has retired as superintendent after four-and-two-thirds years in that lead role. But, he said, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to my home on the lake, and that’s it. My wife is also a superintendent of schools down near Lake George, and she’s also retiring this summer. But our children and grandchildren are here, and we fully plan to stay in the community.”

Goewey also said he was willing to stay on as long as the district needed him as they searched for his successor. As it happens, the district won’t need to intrude upon Goewey’s retirement. They’ve already found the man who will take his place.

That man is Dr. Mathis A. Calvin III, 47, formerly director of pupil personnel at Letchworth Central School District, superintendent of the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, and most recently, superintendent of the Wayne Central School District. He received his doctorate from the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester where he wrote his dissertation on improving the performance of students with learning disabilities. Calvin has a long-time spiritual side, serving as a junior deacon while still a teenager, later serving as a minister, assistant youth pastor, and head of men’s ministries at a Pentecostal church in Rochester.

Mexico Academy & Central Schools’ Superintendent Sean Bruno resigned this month after five years on the job to take on the superintendent’s position at the Brockport Central School District.

Bruno has lived in Brockport during his entire five-year tenure as Mexico’s superintendent, commuting daily.

“They always say three to five years,” said James Emery, Mexico School Board president, of Bruno’s time with the district. “So, we got five years. We were hoping for more, and actually, he was. He said that he really had been fending off offers and didn’t want any. He built up a nice organization here, a great school district here in Mexico, and he was pleased with his efforts. But this time, it was his own home district, and it’s kind of hard to pass up when all you’ve got to do is pretty much walk out your door and you’re at your place of employment. And his kids go to that district, so, it makes sense. And they are a larger school district, so some might say it’s a step up.”

The relationship between superintendents and the school boards they work with is often difficult and contentious, leading to many resignations. According to Emery, that was not the case here.

“There was certainly no other reason than the fact a larger school district came courting that was right in his own backyard,” he said.

“I thought he did a phenomenal job in Mexico. He raised our graduation rates, expanded opportunities for our kids to get college credits, some kids can actually get an Associate’s degree. We had two massive building projects, finishing one up at the Mexico Middle School, and then we had our high school auditorium renovated as well as athletic stadium complex. Those are fairly large projects. So, he did a tremendous job with those,” Emery said.

The search has begun for Bruno’s successor.

“We have the proverbial wheels going, so to speak,” said Emery. “Nothing concrete yet, but we did have a short discussion following our budget presentation meeting. So, first step will be trying to secure an interim superintendent and then conduct a full superintendent search. No timeline has been established yet, and really, nothing concrete yet. The ball is rolling.”

That first step has been accomplished. At its June 11 meeting, the Mexico School Board interviewed and then appointed Michael Schiedo as interim superintendent effective July 1. Bruno and Schiedo intend to work together over the coming weeks so that a seamless transition will occur when the month ends, Emery said. Schiedo has nine years of experience as a superintendent, retiring from the Chittenango Central School District in 2017. He also served as interim superintendent at West Genesee in 2019 from February to August.

Emery does not expect a permanent superintendent will be found by September.

“Personally,” said Emery, “I’d say no, because that’s fairly aggressive, and we did have an aggressive timeline when we hired Sean. I know the board has expressed an interest in not having such an aggressive timeline this time.

“Sometimes it depends on the time of the year that you’re conducting your search. Some years are better than other years as far as how many applicants or candidates are out there. So, you never know. It’s not an exact science. There are a lot of factors, and now you couple that with the fact we have the COVID-19 climate that we’re trying to navigate, and so, who knows? Based on all that anyway, I’m going to say it would be highly unlikely that we’d have a candidate by September.”

The Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Central School District has taken an extremely collaborative approach in its search for Superintendent Eric Knuth’s replacement following his recent resignation to take a position as superintendent of Skaneateles schools.

The APW Board of Education is seeking feedback from a wide variety of stakeholder groups on what qualities they would like to see in a new superintendent. There will be nine stakeholder groups as follows:

• District Clerk/District Treasurer/School Business Administrator/Assistant Superintendent

• Business Office

• Clerical

• CSEA

• Faculty Association

• Supervisors /Technology/School Security Officers

• Administrators

• Students

• Community Members

Each stakeholder group selected up to 10 people within their group to meet with board leadership, the only exception being that the community stakeholder group may have up to 20 people involved. A conversation was then held to discuss what traits, skills, and characteristics that stakeholder group would like to see in the next superintendent. Each group provided the board leadership with their list of the top five qualities they are looking for. Board leadership compiled those lists and provided them to the entire board. This will allow the board to compile questions and look for these traits in interviewed candidates.

According to the board, “This is not intended to just be a meeting with the leadership of the units. It is designed to get down in the trenches and really glean information from our front-line employees, students and community members.

“We realize that this is happening fast, however, our desire is to move this process along so that we can make sure that we have someone here for the start of the new school year if possible.”

Accordingly, those groups have submitted their suggestions. These are the main traits, skills, and characteristics those stakeholder groups would like to see in their next superintendent:

• District should implement a long-range plan for future goals, independent of leadership.

• Business, budget process and grant writing experience preferred.

• Thorough reference check performed.

• Preferably a current staff member looking to advance.

• Would like an entry plan and vision prior to starting.

• Address discipline, bullying, and minorities’ issues in the school with consistency.

• Add more afterschool activities and clubs.

• Expand offerings to students not pursuing the traditional college route.

• Improve the technology program and offer classes to students to encourage growth in that area.

• Build upon the already established programs as well as introducing alternatives and modifications to current programs.

• Empower the teachers to try different methods and applications and make decisions.

• Raise the standards.

• Students are the first and most important focus.

• Already accredited, someone towards end of career looking to stay for extended period of time with extensive legal knowledge and knowledge of current processes.

• District resident preferred, but a structured (Step) contract acceptable. Possible pay to relocate option.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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