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Saranac Lake school board readies search for super

October 18, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake school board set the parameters for its superintendent search Wednesday, including establishing a pay range and a residency requirement for the position.

Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Stephen Shafer, who's assisting the district in its search, met with the board for roughly 40 minutes during its regular meeting at the Petrova School library. The district is looking for a new superintendent to replace Gerald Goldman, who's retiring at the end of the current school year. After considering a shared superintendent with Lake Placid schools, now each district is going out on its own.

Shafer presented the board with a glossy, four-page brochure that's been created to advertise the position. It includes information about the district like its mission statement and financial data, a profile of the superintendent position and information about the community.

Article Photos

New Saranac Lake school board student representatives Nicholas Mann, left, a junior, and senior Julia Murray participated in a discussion Wednesday night about whether student athletes should be excused from taking gym class.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

"This is great," said school board President Debra Lennon. "I think it looks wonderful."

One thing missing from the brochure was information about the salary range for the position. Shafer gave the board a handout listing superintendent salaries around the region, and noted that Goldman's salary is currently about $130,000.

Asked by board member Clyde Baker to suggest a range, Shafer recommended $115,000 to $130,000.

"Whatever you put as the top of the range, you need to be prepared to pay, within $5,000," Shafer said.

Baker and Lennon said they liked Shafer's recommendation, but board member Terry Tubridy suggested lowering it to $110,000 to $125,000.

"I can't see offering as a high-end range what Jerry is making now," Tubridy said. "Jerry is at the top end of the scale as far as experience and everything else. If you put the $130,000 out there, most applicants are going to argue that's what they should get."

Board member Katie Fischer also favored the slightly lower range because she said the new superintendent should want "in their heart to be here, not because of the dollar amount."

Although no vote was taken, the majority of the board was comfortable with the $115,000-to-$130,000 range, which is how the position will be advertised.

Another requirement listed in the brochure was that the new superintendent has to establish residency in the district within a year of his or her appointment. Baker said that should be cut down to six or eight months.

"For that kind of money, we've got to get them in here and establish their residency, establish everything, and I'm sorry if there are other circumstances, but we need to have them here," Baker said.

Tubridy said he had mixed feelings about the residency requirement. If it's someone who already lives in the Tri-Lakes, he said he wasn't sure if the person should be required to live in the district.

"The other thing is, selling houses is not quick anymore," Tubridy said. "I've got three or four houses in my neighborhood that have been on the market for 18 months."

Board member Miles Van Nortwick noted that the residency requirement has been "a bone of contention" for several prior superintendents.

Scott Amo, who had been superintendent before Goldman, lived in Plattsburgh. A residency clause was part of his contract when he was hired in 2003, but after Amo remained in Plattsburgh, the board removed it in a controversial 4-3 vote in 2004. Amo resigned in 2007 to take a job closer to his home.

Paul Doyle, who was the district's superintendent from 1995 to 2001, lived in Saranac Lake during the work week but on the weekends returned to Rochester, where his family remained after he was hired here, or to his second home in the Thousand Islands. Doyle eventually resigned to take a job closer to the Rochester area.

Despite Tubridy's opposition, the board agreed to set a six-month residency requirement for the position, although Lennon said they may have to be flexible about it.

"As we get into these discussions with people and we find out what their specific circumstances are, we may have to look at this again," she said. "We can certainly put it there. There's no question the board would prefer someone who lives in the Saranac Lake Central School District."

Among other things, the board agreed Wednesday to advertise the position in newspapers around the state and with the New York Council of School Superintendents, the New York State School Boards Association and the School Administrators Association of New York. Advertising costs are expected to total at least $2,100. The position will also be posted on the district and BOCES websites, and Shafer said he'd send the brochure to placement directors at more than 60 colleges and universities.

The board also set a Jan. 11, 2013, application deadline for the job.

Once the applications come in, Shafer said he and his staff would check the backgrounds, experience and credentials of each applicant, then bring all those applications to the school board, which will decide which candidates it wants to interview.

The first round of interviews could be done in mid February and a second round in early March so the board can make a decision by late March or early April.

Goldman's last day on the job will be July 1, although he plans to use accumulated vacation and leave time that will keep him on the payroll until July 15.


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



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