The Mid Hudson Times covered the appointment of Superintendent Pizzo in its February 23 issue. The article is available online here.
Supt Search 2011
At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, February 15, the Newburgh School District BOE reconvened from executive session.
Bylaw 0160 was suspended for the remainder of the meeting.
The following resolution was read and unanimously approved:
"Be it resolved that the Board of Education hereby accepts the resignation of Ralph A. Pizzo as Deputy Superintendent of Schools of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, and be it further resolved that the Board of Education hereby appoints Ralph A. Pizzo as Superintendent of Schools of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District and authorizes its president to execute an agreement with Mr. Pizzo which sets forth the terms and conditions of his employment as Superintendent of Schools of the school district for the period of time commencing February 15, 2011 and terminating on June 30, 2014 with annual compensation of $188,027 for this period from February 15, 2011 through June 30, 2011, and $175,000 for the period from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. Said contract shall be incorporated by reference within the minutes of this meeting."
At 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, February 15, Board President Fucheck arrived at the BOE Workshop meeting and presented this "update on the Superintendent search".
Fucheck: Several months ago, the Board began a search for new Superintendent because Saturnelli was intending to retire in June 2011. The Board had no information about any internal candidates. We received lots of feedback and input from the community, teachers, central office. We did that via search consultants. During that time Pizzo has been Acting Superintendent.
Since then, many things have happened. Perhaps most concerning is news from Governor Cuomo about cuts in education. Acting Superintendant, Board, others have been working to minimize impact on the Newburgh School District. First budget workshop is this Thursday. We are in very difficult financial times.
Mr. Pizzo asked me last week if he could bring a proposal before the Board. I granted him that opportunity, and it was just brought to us last week. That proposal from Mr. Pizzo was that if the Board would appoint him to the position of Superintendent he would accept the position at a reduction in salary. In addition he has said that he is willing to leave the position of Deputy Superintendent vacant at this time due to our fiscal crisis.
Mr. Pizzo has been an employee of the district for more than 30 years, including Acting Superintendent on more than one occasion. He is familiar with needs of district and the Board has been very pleased with the job he has done. The district has been able to move forward in a positive direction. The Board and Central Administration, and Mr. Pizzo are fully supportive of fulfilling the goals that have been set. Morale and relationships have been built during this process. The Board sees this as a very positive step for Newburgh.
We have a few details left to discuss, but it is the Board's intention to take Mr. Pizzo up on his proposal. We believe that based on the information that has been gathered, and the profile developed from stakeholder input, that we already have that person in our district that fits the bill. So the Board believes that the appointment of Mr. Ralph Pizzo as the Superintendent is in the best interest of the District and this entire community, and we intend to act on that proposal.
[Some joking about whether he has been in the district 30 or 40 years.]
Pizzo: Since we're going to be transparent here, this past opening was my 42nd opening. If you do vote on this and make me your Superintendent, I intend to finish the job that the Superintendent started -- the reconfiguration and construction. Thank you for the opportunity.
At the Board of Education Workshop meeting tonight Newburgh Schools BOE President Fucheck announced that the Board intends to hire Mr. Pizzo to be Superintendent of Newburgh Schools.
The following ad has been posted to many job sites on the internet. Unfortunately it looks like the web site http://www.leadschools.us is not responding just now.
The Newburgh, New York Enlarged City School District is seeking a SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS. Located at "The Crossroads of the Northeast", Newburgh is on the west bank of the Hudson River, 60 miles north of New York City and 80 miles south of Albany. The area is known for its excellent recreational and business opportunities and is served by the Stewart International Airport which is located within the boundaries of the school district. More than 50% of the students live within the City of Newburgh and all children within the District are provided transportation to their schools.
Approximately 58% of the more than 12,000 students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, and 31% of the students are Black or African American, 35% are Hispanic or Latino, 2% are Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander, and 32% are White. Seventy-eight percent of the graduates of the Newburgh Free Academy (the district's high school) go on to post-secondary education. There is a proud tradition of support for the schools and approximately 68% of the district's staff live within the school district boundaries.
Among the outstanding programs of the district are (a) theme-based magnet schools including global exploration, sound mind/body, performing arts, back to basics, technology, and gifted and talented; (b) smaller learning communities which have been created at the junior and senior high school levels; (c) an on-campus Construction Career Academy and Certified Nurse Aide Program; (d) an Extended Year Program; and (e) a wide range of after-school and extracurricular programs at every level.
The Board of Education has approved a profile for the Superintendent vacancy, and determined that the successful candidate will be:
o An administrator with proven experience in leading a diverse school community in reducing the dropout rate and closing gaps in student achievement
o A strong instructional leader, with a collaborative leadership style, who will build upon the strengths of the school district while also identifying and acting upon areas of weakness
o An accessible, visible and visionary educator, who acts on the belief that all children can learn and inspires and mentors others in sharing and pursuing that belief
o A leader who is passionate about the importance of public education in the lives of the students, their parents, and the members of the community
o A great communicator and listener, who will strengthen the staff and community's knowledge of the workings and performance of the school district
o An educator who is also an efficient, capable manager of the business and finance interests of the school district and its taxpayers
New York State certification as a School District Leader or School District Administrator is required, and the Board is offering a regionally-competitive salary. Only on-line applications will be accepted, which must be submitted no later than February 25, 2011 by going to the School Leadership, LLC Web Site: www.leadschools.us and clicking on the Current Vacancies link.
The following paragraph is from David Zehner v. The Board Of Education Of The Jordan-Elbridge Central School District et. al. It is not about the Newburgh School District. It is from a court decision made in Onondaga County October 1, 2010.
III. Discussion in Executive Session
The Board also violated the law by discussing the issue of the Superintendent search in Executive Session. Board President Mary Alley, in her affidavit, acknowledges "discussing and addressing the issue of a search for a new Superintendent." Alley affidavit, Paragraph 6. There is no exception for this type of discussion in the Open Meetings Law to take place in Executive Session. This is precisely the type of issue that is required to be discussed in an open meeting. It is a policy discussion by the Board, which is not a legal matter for Executive Session. The qualities and qualifications that the Board is seeking in a Superintendent, as well as the process which it intends to utilize, are matters for public observation in a public meeting. The ability to adjourn to Executive Session is a statutory exemption limited, on the facts of this case, to discussing the prospective appointment of a particular individual. It is a separate step that the Board may consider if it truly needs to address confidential matters about that individual and is not to be used as an all-encompassing exemption. The appointment process must not occur behind closed doors. Therefore, by discussing the search for a new Superintendent in Executive Session the Board violated the Open Meetings Law.
At the Thursday January 6 Central Compact meeting, Mr. Fowler of School Leadership was present to obtain further input for the superintendent search process in the Newburgh School District. There were about 50 people at this meeting. The audience was a mix of teachers, administrators, and parents.
Fowler introduced himself and the process. He gave some general information about the state of the superintendence profession. He said there are fewer applicants than there were 15 or 20 years ago; the average age is higher; and the job involves less time on teaching and learning and more time with boards and litigation. There is also a trend of shifting control from the local to the State and federal government. He said that he has met with the Board, and other groups, including students, municipal leaders, and the business community. He said that the Board had requested that candidates be sought both inside and out, and the same process will be used for both. He expects to provide a report on the search criteria to the Board on the meeting of the 18th, and by the middle of March six or seven best matches will be presented to the Board. Board may choose to interview those, or any other candidates. Mr. Fowler's teaches educational administrators at Teachers College. He described what he does there as "helping administrators carve out time to work as instructional leaders."
Mr. Fowler said he spent time with a group of NFA students earlier in the day. He said that the district has much to be proud of in terms of the children and their wisdom on issues. Though they did not know who the superintendent is or was, they would have liked to have, and they had a lot of ideas about what the good things were about their education, and changes they would like to see.
Click through for speaker notes from the Central Compact meeting.
On Wednesday January 5 at 7pm there was a meeting at the Newburgh Free Library Auditorium for public input to the superintendent search process. Charles Fowler and Ed McCormick of School Leadership LLC, the consulting firm hired to assist the Board with the search, introduced themselves and gave an overview of the search process.
Fowler and McCormick are meeting with other groups this week, including municipal officials, business people, etc. Next week they will be summarizing their work to the Board as a list of the five or six qualities or attributes to be sought in applicants. The Board is expected to approve these search criteria. School Leadership will then work to generate candidates. Somewhere toward the end of March, it is hoped, the field of candidates would be reduced to six or seven for interviews. And that field will get reduced to two or three. The Board hopes to make an appointment sometime in April.
To guide discussion Fowler asked three questions. What are the good things about the Newburgh School District that would make a candidate interested in working here? What challenges is the district likely to face over the next three to five years? What experience and leadership style should be sought in candidates?
There were around 30 in the audience. More than half spoke. I was very impressed with all of the speakers. Each had well founded opinions that they expressed very clearly. Some were very frank, but everyone was very respectful of the purpose and constraints of the meeting, and the opinions of others.
Click through for notes on the speakers...
There was coverage of this meeting in the THRecord last Thursday.
In the Wednesday, January 5, Mid Hudson Times, Tom Fitzgerald wrote a column titled "Looking for Mr. or Ms. (or Dr.) Right." It begins:
Today's the day. Today's the day that the Newburgh Enlarged City School District begins to search for its next superintendent with an invitation to all members of the school community to attend a meeting at the Board of Education/Library Complex Auditorium from 7-8 p.m. Having worked with a few superintendents over the years and having spent a couple of years on the Newburgh Board of Education, I have a few suggestions for the search committee listed here in no particular order.
Look for someone who puts student learning first, someone who will make all decisions based on what is best for the students of the district, someone who cares about children and understands their needs.
Look for someone with experience in a school district like the Newburgh School District, someone who can demonstrate success with both urban and suburban populations, someone who is as unique as the Newburgh School District is unique.
Look for someone who has demonstrated not only the professional qualifications to be superintendent but someone who has the intelligence and common sense necessary to do the job.
The article continues with 21 additional recommendations and then closes with this ominous note:
One very serious cautionary note. The right person for the job, even the person described above, will have no chance for success without a rational and supportive board of education. The best person for the job, perhaps especially the best person for the job, will be undermined and destroyed by board members who don't share the same attitudes and philosophy, who don't understand that they don't run the district, who refuse to accept that as individuals they are simply citizens of the district like everyone else, who see no problem with conflicts of interest and pushing their own personal agendas. It's not that board members shouldn't micro-manage. They shouldn't manage at all. They hire the superintendent to manage. And yes, even the best superintendent in the world won't survive such a board.
Unfortunately, there is no search committee for board of education members.
A letter posted at the Newburgh School District website invites the public to attend a meeting with School Leadership, LLC, a company hired to help the BOE conduct a search for a new Superintendent of Schools. The letter says that there will be a meeting Wednesday January 5, 2011, at 7PM at which the public may provide input into the selection process.
The BOE is to be commended for making an effort to involve the public in this process. Also for going to the effort of communicating to the public.
The letter is a little technical ("responding to a prompt" is edu-jargon), but in essence it invites the public to suggest what about the Newburgh School District might be attractive to a candidate for superintendent, what is challenging about the district, and what experiences and qualities should a candidate posess.
There was an article in the Times Herald Record on Saturday which announced this meeting and included some comments from Superintendent Saturnelli.
The Newburgh School District Board of Education has hired a consulting firm to assist with a superintendent search. At the Central Compact meeting this evening a Board of Education member said this should surprise noone as the company was hired at a public board meeting. According to the board member, Dr. Saturnelli has notified the Board of her intention to retire upon expiration of her contract in June. The search is expected to run until March or April. There will be some sort of public session with the search firm in January.