KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board of Education appointed Michael Stead to the open seat on the board at a special meeting on Friday, September 30. Mr. Stead is returning to the board to take Tracy Farrell’s seat. Ms. Farrell, an assistant superintendent in the Poughkeepsie school system, resigned from the board two weeks ago citing work commitments.
Mr. Stead was previously appointed to the board last year to fill a different one-year vacancy. He then ran for election in last May’s annual vote but did not win a seat on the board.
When a vacancy came up on the board in August prior to Ms. Farrell’s resignation, board members decided to ask for applications from interested community members instead of holding a special election. Mr. Stead applied then for the seat but the board appointed Dan Cohn to the position.
When the board found out that it had yet another vacancy one month later, Mr. Stead was asked to fill it. The terms of both Mr. Stead and Mr. Cohn will be up in May of 2017.
Board Vice President Cheryl Trefzger, who was running the meeting in the absence of President Anthony Welcome, welcomed Mr. Stead back to the board and thanked him for accepting the seat.
Mr. Stead is a teacher in the Chatham Central School District and has three children in the Ichabod Crane District.
After Mr. Stead was sworn in, board members discussed the search for a new district superintendent with representatives from Questar III/BOCES. Current Superintendent George Zini is leaving the district in June 2017. He has been with the district since January 2013.
They talked about the values the board is looking for a new leader, as well as what salary to offer, a residency requirement for candidates and how to get the input from the community.
There was a long discussion on whether the board was looking for someone with a strong business/financial background or curriculum based background. Matthew Sloane, from Questar, said it was hard to find someone with a strong background in both.
“I look at the superintendent as a CEO,” said Ms. Trefzger. She said that the school is a business with a budget and employees. “Our product and our customers [are] the students,” she said.
Ms. Trefzgar also stressed longevity, saying that she didn’t want to have the board to have to go through this process again in five years.
After hearing what other board members said, Questar III Superintendent Gladys Cruz said, “You’re looking for someone who can really move the district forward…. is collaborative, a great communicator, sets the tone, sets the vision, sets the path.”
Mr. Sloane said that he felt a “curriculum based person is more what you’re looking for.” Board member Jeffrey Ouellette said that he wanted someone who had dealt with a budget. Mr. Ouellette also said he wanted to do a site visit of the final candidates’ current schools before making the final decision.
When the topic of requiring the superintendent to live in the community came up, the board talked to Questar about having a 50-mile radius requirement.
“There are not a lot of people out there looking,” Mr. Sloane warned the board of finding candidates. He stressed that making someone move, especially with a young family, might cut down candidates.
As for salary and benefits offered to the new superintendent, the board decided not to list a range on the information for candidates and base the salary on experience. The district currently pays Mr. Zini about $200,000 annually in salary and benefits.
Questar also brought a survey for the board to review before posting it on the district’s website for residents to fill out with what they want in a superintendent. The survey is now on the district website www.ichabodcrane.org for the next two weeks; paper copies are available in district’s central office in the high school.
The board also plans to host a special meeting Tuesday, October 18 at 7 p.m. in the High School library to get public input on the superintendent search.
In November, the board will meet again with Questar to discuss the interviewing process.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email