By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — It’s been only a few months since the Niskayuna Central School District brought John Yagielski on as interim superintendent in mid-April, but it’s already time to start looking for his replacement.
He was never meant to stay long; as interim superintendent, Yagielski’s job is pave the way for a new, permanent superintendent by steering the district away from budget trouble and the image problems that followed the murky circumstances of Susan Kay Salvaggio’s departure just before he was hired.
It will be an unusual year for the district as its students, teachers and staff continue to collaborate with Yagielski while preparing themselves for the district’s third new leader in not quite as many years.
“It becomes a big deal, from a process point of view, for people to have their say,” Yagielski said. “We’re trying to show the district is listening and responding.”
As part of that process, Yagielski answered some questions for Your Niskayuna about the academic year ahead, especially the search that will be undertaken for his successor:
How long will it take to choose a new superintendent?
The Board of Education will meet at the end of September with Charles Dedrick, the district superintendent from Capital Region BOCES. Dedrick will act as a consultant during the search process and will coordinate the recruitment effort at no charge to the district. The board hopes to have a candidate identified by April or May 2015.
How can the community make sure it has a say in the hiring process?
Community forums will be held with all the district’s stakeholders, similar to the ones Yagielski conducted at the end of the 2013-14 school year, when he was hired. The qualifications for the new superintendent will be defined, in part, by those forums. Yagielski suggested that if there’s a large turnout for the forums, attendees could break up into small groups for discussion and present their priorities to the Board of Education, which gets the final say in the hiring.
How will candidates for the superintendent position be identified?
“As soon as it becomes known, superintendents in the state know how to reach out,” Yagielski said. In addition to advertising the position, Dedrick will act as a recruiter, identifying and contacting potential candidates. Connections like these are often made at statewide superintendents’ conferences in the fall and winter. Ultimately, Dedrick will help the Niskayuna Board of Education choose between seven and twelve finalists for the position.
What’s it like to apply for a job as a superintendent?
It’s not much different from applying for any other job, although the process is intensive and hiring requires approval by the Board of Education. Applicants fill out a lengthy application, including a written statement of philosophy. For the strongest candidates, interviews follow.
What’s Yagielski’s role in all this?
He acts as a facilitator to the process. “It’s not my job to pick,” Yagielski said. “It’s my job to help [the Board of Education] in any way I can.”