Tupper Lake superintendent search continues

TUPPER LAKE — The search for Tupper Lake Central School District’s next superintendent continues this week with a slate of candidates scheduled to be interviewed by the school board.

Thirteen people submitted applications for the superintendent position. The school board reviewed those 13 applications this past Wednesday alongside Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES District Superintendent Dale Breault Jr., who is helping to facilitate the search.

After reviewing the applications, school board members selected seven applicants to invite to interview for the position, according to BOCES Public Information Specialist Jess Collier.

“This initial round of interviews will be confidential, to protect candidates from potential repercussions about seeking new employment,” a news release from BOCES reads.

The district isn’t currently planning a public forum with its superintendent candidates. But after the interviews this week, the school board will narrow down the list of superintendent hopefuls to two or three candidates, who would then be brought in for a round of interviews with students, staff, parents and community members. The district plans to invite members of the school community who may be interested in participating in this round of interviews to contact them. Those interested will be able to find the information on how to participate on ParentSquare and the district’s Facebook page, facebook.com/tupperlakecsd.

BOCES often helps local school districts with searches for new superintendents. In the past few years, Breault has assisted school boards at Lake Placid, Raquette Lake, Long Lake, St. Regis Falls and Malone schools find and choose new superintendents.

Outgoing superintendent

Current Tupper Lake Superintendent Russ Bartlett plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Bartlett has led Tupper Lake schools for nearly four years. He took over from Seth McGowan, who led the district from 2008 to 2020.

Bartlett has spent three decades at TLCSD altogether, starting as a science teacher in 1994. It was trial by fire in his first year: He taught five types of science then, before his position was changed and he was able to focus on chemistry. He became Tupper Lake’s athletic director in 2010, assistant principal and dean of students in 2011, and four years later, he became the middle-high school principal. He was appointed the superintendent of schools in the summer of 2020 — right after students were sent home during the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown. He ushered the district through a historic period of remote learning and rapidly-shifting state mandates.

“When I think back over 30 years, I don’t know that the last four will stand out as having been a highlight of my time,” Bartlett told the Enterprise this past November, when he first announced his retirement.

Bartlett said he’s glad he had the time to do it and work with the people he did, but he missed working with 20 to 30 kids in a classroom all-day, every day.

“I think at heart I’m always going to think of myself as a teacher and a coach,” he said.

He told the Enterprise that he’s not the type to give advice but told his successor that if making the educational experience better for students remains at the center of every decision they make, then it’s not a wrong decision.

School vote is Tuesday

Right now, TLCSD is facing a particularly challenging budget year.

Voters will weigh in on the district’s $21.9 million budget proposal on Tuesday. If it passes, it would carry an 8.75% tax levy increase — that would translate to an increase of $411 next year for someone with a $300,000 home. If the budget doesn’t pass, the district will likely need to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expenses, which would result in staff layoffs and reductions to student activities. TLCSD is asking to raise taxes while offering fewer services because pandemic-era federal funding has run out and state aid contributions have not risen to the level that district officials had anticipated.

Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. at the library of the Middle-High School.

Tuesday is also the TLCSD school board election. Board President Jane Whitmore and Vice President Jason Rolley are both running uncontested to keep their seats.


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