The Board of Education held a Community Forum in the George Trautwein Auditorium on October 6 to encourage citizens of Rye Brook to share their thoughts on the ongoing search for a new superintendent of schools.
This week, a new face sat at the Board of Education table. Dr. Harold Coles of District Superintendent of Southern Westchester BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Service) was requested to moderate the meeting and to answer questions that community members submit.
“Dr. Coles distributed a list of topics and questions at the beginning of the forum, then asked community members to comment,” said President of the Board of Education Jeff Diamond.
Approximately twenty-five people attended the meeting, which was an opportunity for parents and other community members to express their views on the school district, to discuss what they like about Blind Brook, and to give feedback on what they feel the district’s priorities should be as they plan for the future.
They also discussed the qualities, credentials and characteristics that the Board of Education should look for in a new superintendent.
“The goal of the forum and the three other focus groups was to get input from the different constituencies regarding the qualities, characteristics and experience that the Board [of Education] should seek when selecting a new superintendent,” said Board of Education President Jeff Diamond.
“Some of the qualities that the community would like to see in the next superintendent are previous experience as a superintendent, a charismatic and hardworking leader who will motivate teachers and administrators, and good communication skills that will promote the district throughout the wider community and energize everyone in the school community,” Diamond added.
Former Superintendent William Stark resigned in March and Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Ross is currently filling the role as Interim Superintendent for the remainder of the 2015-2016 academic year.
Stark came to Blind Brook in 2007 and was appointed superintendent in 2008, totaling eight years in the Blind Brook community prior to resignation. Ross has been at Blind Brook High School for fourteen years.
“I do feel that the meeting was a success although it would have been nice to see a larger turnout. Choosing a superintendent does not happen very often, and it is the most important responsibility of the Board of Education,” said Diamond.
According to Diamond, this is the first time that Blind Brook had a community forum for the purpose of hiring a new superintendent. The meeting lasted for about one hour and the Board received multiple opinions and comments about the community expectations.
“Several community members noted that the renovation of the facilities at the Bruno M. Ponterio Ridge Street School should be a priority. There were also some community members who wanted to see more educational technology, like the ChromeBook Initiative currently in the middle school, as well as more emphasis on STEM curriculum,” said Diamond.
“Some current examples [of STEM] are the robotics classes in the middle school, and the new computer science class at the high school,” he said.
This feedback is crucial and will help the Board during the rest of the search process. There are more focus groups planned for the future, one with teachers, one with administrators, and a third with school-related personnel.
In regards to the current school year, the district, as stated in their annual District Goals presentation, is fully committed to the learning experience of the students by seeking stress-reducing strategies, and promoting use of the best practices in differentiated instruction.
A full list of the District Goals can be found on the Blind Brook Schools website. Also on the Blind Brook Schools website is a page dedicated to the superintendent search.
Posted here are three documents: the Blind Brook Superintendent Search Brochure, Blind Brook Superintendent Vacancy Announcement, and the Blind Brook Superintendent Application.
The application deadline for prospective superintendents is November 16, 2015, and whoever is selected as the new superintendent will assume their position on July 1, 2016.