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Saranac Lake school superintendent search to begin

School board debates using outside search firm, community’s role

September 25, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Now that it's decided not to share a superintendent with the Lake Placid Central School District, the Saranac Lake school board is moving quickly to begin its own search for the district's top post.

At its meeting last week, the board discussed how to proceed with the search, including whether to tap into the superintendent search services available through the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services or bring in an outside search firm.

Board member Clyde Baker suggesting using BOCES to develop a brochure to advertise the vacancy, created by the pending retirement of current Superintendent Gerald Goldman, who will step down in June.

"I think it would be foolish not to use them," added board member Terry Tubridy. "It's not free, but it's included in what we're paying BOCES for already."

Board President Debra Lennon said BOCES could help the district review the initial applications for the job to determine who is qualified.

Board member Esther Arlan then suggested the district reach out to other school districts around the state - she mentioned Buffalo and Long Island - that have used search firms to help find new superintendents.

"I think it behooves us at least to talk to some other school districts to find out why they went one way versus the other way," Arlan said. "The other thing is to call the Rural Schools Association and ask them, 'Are there agencies other than BOCES?' I'm not saying we shouldn't use BOCES, but let's look at other options and, at our next meeting, come back with all the information."

But Lennon said she didn't think an outside search firm is the way to go because it would cost the district money and take additional time.

"I'm looking at free, and I'm looking at a fee," Lennon said. "I know BOCES knows our districts and knows the districts around the area. It just seems like a whole separate step that's just going to prolong the process. I think we know what we're looking for. We need to spend our time coming up with a paragraph or two about what type of person we're looking for."

As the discussion continued, Arlan also recommended that the community be involved in suggesting qualifications for a new superintendent. It was done in the past and led to some good ideas, Arlan said, suggesting interested local residents share their ideas at the board's next meeting.

Lennon said community input is important, but she felt the public should be involved later in the process as part of a committee to interview potential candidates.

Board member Katie Fischer said she didn't want to wait another two weeks to move forward.

"I don't know why we're not getting to work, throwing a fish net out there," she said. "Let's get going on this thing."

"I agree because I think we're already behind in getting (the brochure) out on the street," Tubridy said.

The board agreed to review the brochure the district used in advertising its last superintendent vacancy (in 2007, when Goldman was hired) and bring any changes to its Oct. 3 meeting.

"We should also be thinking about who in the community is going to help with interviews, and how many," Lennon said.

The board initially talked about asking people who'd like to be on the interview committee to write a letter of intent to the district, but Lennon later said that could turn into a "free-for-all." Fischer suggested having the district's building principals recommend people, but that was ruled out after high school Principal Bruce Van Weelden noted that some of the district's administrators may apply for the superintendent job.

It was ultimately decided that each board member would suggest one or two members of the public to serve on the interview committee.


Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or



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