ICC debates super search

KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane Board plans to ask administrators, teachers, parents and community members to form a superintendent search committee. They discussed how the board hopes to move forward with the search at their regular meeting Tuesday June 4.

Current Superintendent Michael Vanyo will resign June 30. He has been on leave from the district since early April. He was arrested for a DWI and leaving the scene of a property damage accident in Saratoga County on April 6. Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow was appointed acting superintendent April 30.

After the annual budget vote and school board election on May 21, the board released a statement saying they would accept Mr. Vanyo’s resignation. Mr. Vanyo is no longer on unpaid leave, starting May 22, and according to the statement, he “will be providing transition work to the district through the end of the 2018-2019 school year, until June 30. During this time, Mr. Vanyo will work with the district from a remote location to help prepare for his departure and ease the eventual transition period of a new superintendent.” Mr. Vanyo was hired in 2017 to replace retiring Superintendent George Zini.

The statement also said that Ms. Guntlow will continue as acting superintendent. She served as assistant to the acting superintendent last summer until early November, when Mr. Vanyo was out on medical leave. At that time she did not have all the state qualifications to be superintendent so Questar III/BOCES Superintendent Gladys Cruz was appointed acting superintendent but Ms. Guntlow handled the day-to-day duties of top district administrator. The board appointed Ms. Guntlow assistant superintendent, at Mr. Vanyo’s recommendation, in March. She had been the principal for the Annual Professional Performance Review. She was originally hired by the district as principal at the primary school.

The board began its discussion at the June 4 meeting about looking at candidates for interim superintendent before starting their search for a permanent superintendent.

The board had formed a committee of four of its members who met to discuss the candidates for the interim position. Board member Regina Rose, who is on the committee, told the board that the committee concluded they should interview the two candidates interested in the interim position. Ms. Rose said that there was one candidate from the school and another from outside the school community.

Board President Matthew Nelson made it clear that one of candidates was Ms. Guntlow and questioned whether the board should be looking for an interim superintendent. He stressed that the board was in a unique place with this superintendent search since there was no deadline for finding someone.

“Before we talk about the who, we need to talk about the what,” he said of what the district is looking for in a new superintendent.

Board member John Antalek, who is also on the committee, said he wanted to gather the group of “stakeholders,” like the one used in the last superintendent search, to meet and start that discussion. The stakeholders include representatives from the PTA, the teachers union, an administrator, a school staff member and five community members.

Mr. Nelson hoped the group could meet and have a recommendation to the board by the end of month about what the district is looking for in a candidate.

Ms. Rose asked if that meant putting the search for an interim superintendent on hold. She and board member Jeffrey Ouellette talked about working with a consultant for the search for a permanent replacement for Mr. Vanyo.

“I think the community would be unhappy if we don’t do …a thorough search,” Ms. Rose said.

Mr. Ouellette pointed out that the Chatham School District used a private consultant in that district’s superintendent search and the district was happy with the choice the board made and the process. Mr. Ouellette also said he felt it would be best for the district if they had a superintendent in place by December.

Mr. Nelson and Mr. Antalek said the district could wait until June 30, leaving Ms. Guntlow in charge for that time, before they decide on hiring a consultant or doing the search in-house.

Mr. Antalek said the board would form the superintendent search committee and ask community members to join the committee through the website.

Mr. Nelson said that unlike the last search, where the board hired Questar III to find candidates and facilitate the community search committee, this time, “We don’t have an engaged third party.”

“It’s totally different from the last time, for a lot of reasons,” he said. But he also stressed, “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Also at the June 4 meeting:

• The board recognized several retiring teachers and staff. High School Principal Craig Shull talked about the 10 retiring teachers in his building. “It’s going to be a big adjustment in the high school,” Ms. Guntlow said about the retirements. Along with the high school teachers retiring, one person was retiring from the middle school, two from the primary school, one from the Special Education Department and one from food service department

• The board also recognized board member Anthony Welcome, who was not reelected to the board this May. He has served on the board for 12 years and spent six as president. Before that he was the principal at the primary school and taught in the district. Ms. Guntlow acknowledged his 50 years of service to the school

• The board thanked student representative Olivia Chandler, a senior, for her service on the board and swore in Anna O’Shea as the new representative with Trevor Wolfe as the alternate

• The board heard from student Alex Regan about his proposed Eagle Scout project to replace a bridge on the school property that is used as part of the nature path and a cross-country race route. The board approved his project, which he will work on this summer

• Mr. Nelson updated the board on the capital improvement project in the district. He said the construction of a connector road from the middle school to the primary school was approved by the state. Officials hope to start on the road and repairs to the high school auditorium roof late this summer. The rest of the work on the project is now in the cost estimating phase and will be ready for the board to review next month

• The board granted teaching assistant Blair Pantoja tenure.

The next board meeting will be the organizational meeting and public hearing for the Code of Conduct on Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m.

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