Superintendent Search Update (April 15)

April 28 Comment About Confidential Search

At the April 28 Board of Education Meeting, President John Foley made clarifying comments about the superintendent search and his request for the board to consider a confidential search.  He said that confidential doesn't mean no community involvement.  Mr. Foley said that there are ways to involve the public so that it's more direct and understandable.  Confidentiality does not mean no community involvement. 

April 15, 2021 Update 

A new superintendent search will be launched


School Board President John Foley explained at the April 14 Board of Education meeting that the board met last week and that they are committed to starting a new superintendent search.     Mr. Foley opened a discussion for the board to talk about the approach to a search including the initial steps that need to be taken.  The discussion centered around what type of search it will be, open, closed, or hybrid, and who would conduct the search.

Board members discussed some of the pros and cons of the various types of searches, the experience with the most recent search, and that the focus needs to be on how to attract a pool of candidates that have the desired qualifications and experience to best serve Schenectady students.

Members discussed how the school community wants to be part of the process and agreed that the input is important. At least a few board members argued that an open search can make it difficult to attract highly qualified candidates, specifically sitting superintendents.  Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in an open process.  They pointed to the most recent hybrid search and how confidentiality was breached by at least one stakeholder participant when finalists were brought to the table with community stakeholders. 
A few board members reflected on feedback from Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES Superintendent, who led the first search. Murphy reportedly said that potential qualified candidates turned away because of the open process.
Mr. Foley pointed to the criticism about lack of openness about the search and noted that Schenectady is the only district, out of all the regional searches conducted by BOCES, that did not do a closed search.
Bernice Rivera expressed reluctance to supporting a closed search and said she favors learning more about the pros and cons of the BOCES search.
It was stressed by almost every board member that community voice is important. Nohelani Etienne reiterated that it is important to get the voices of the community and that the board needs to figure out how to involve the community. The type of search however would determine how the community would participate.  In the initial search, the board solicited school community input through surveys and focus groups. They looked at what the community said they wanted and created a profile of the desired candidate before launching the search.  Selected stakeholders, from various corners of the school community, were later brought to the table to meet finalists.

Mr. Foley said that the word "transparency" comes up often and that it is important. He said however, “it’s not about making everything open.  It is stating what you are going to do and then doing what you said.” 
Mr. Foley, who did note that he will no longer be seated on the board when it hires a new leader, asked the board to consider a closed search.  

The board also talked about how they would decide who would conduct the search.  They talked about the possibility of issuing an RFP to learn about the services and processes of external consultants.  Mr. Foley said that they also want to hear from BOCES.

No decisions were made.  The board will continue to discuss at upcoming meetings.  

Click here to watch the recording of the meeting which includes the discussion and individual board member comments. This discussion is timestamped at 43:37.

April 01, 2021 Update

At the March 31 Board of Education Meeting, school board president John Foley shared that the board was not able to come to a mutual agreement with the superintendent candidate on a contract.  Mr. Foley outlined what he believes are the next steps but stressed that he is just one board member and others may have different opinions.  Wednesday evening's executive session is the first time the board would come together to discuss.  Mr. Foley said that the board will decide on a course of action as a governing body.

Mr. Foley said there are many things to discuss including whether there were any other individuals who presented themselves during the search that the board can agree upon and be willing to consider.

Mr. Foley said subsequent, procedural steps will happen in regular open session after spring recess.  Discussion will center on things such as the process of entering contract negotiations with another candidate and what that would look like or if the board will conduct another search.  Some things the board will have to consider with a new search is timing.  When would a new search begin? After the election?  After July 1?  Should the board postpone things for a while and reopen the search a year from now?  Or a predetermined period of time that the board decides upon?

The board would have to discuss if the search will be open or closed.  What are the advantages and disadvantages?  What type of process best serves the interest of the children and residents of Schenectady? Who will conduct the search?

The discussion will take place in open session, just as it did with the search that was completed.  The discussion will happen after spring recess when the board convenes in regular session.

We will continue to share updates. 

March 26, 2021 Update

The Schenectady City School District Board of Education regrets to announce that it was not successful in reaching a mutual contract agreement with the candidate for superintendent.  

Board of Education President John Foley said that the board will meet on Wednesday, March 31 to discuss next steps.  

No further information is available at this time. 

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