January 8, 2011
New Groton superintendent welcomes challenges
School board finalizes three-year contract as educator set to start work by end of next month
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
James Abrams got a look at his new office Thursday after officially being named Groton Central School District’s new superintendent. Abrams previously worked in the Downsville School District in Delaware County.
GROTON — Newly appointed Groton school superintendent James Abrams is focusing on guiding the district through "rough waters ahead" when he starts work next month.
At a special board meeting Thursday, Abrams signed a three-year contract that will pay him $128,000 a year.
"The thing that's affecting all of New York state in educational settings is the fiscal crisis and it comes through lack of funding to the local community," Abrams said. "So going through that in the next few years is going to be extremely rough for any district that's highly dependent on state aid."
Abrams, 52, has 29 years of experience working in education. He has spent the past 2 1/2 years working as superintendent of schools in Downsville, which is about one-third the size of GrotonÕs school district.
"The district I'm coming from, though it's rural, it was property wealthy because of the New York City reservoir, so we were not as dependent on state aid as Groton is," said Abrams. ÒCertainly a cut there and a cut here has an impact, and we're always looking for ways to deliver programs efficiently."
The district's approved $17.9 million budget for 2010-11 represented a $200,000 cut in spending from the previous year to account for state aid reductions.
"You've either got to raise taxes or reduce programming in some way and the challenge is we've got to maintain these programs," Abrams said. "We've got to find a way to make it work."
He said he is looking forward to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposals on the state budget, expected in February.
Abrams was chosen by the Groton Board of Education in December to replace Brenda Myers after she took a superintendent's job in Valhalla Union Free School District. Myers, who departed in October after five years in Groton, held a salary of $145,000.
During the Thursday meeting, board members and Groton faculty voiced unanimous approval of Abrams' perspectives about the job.
Six superintendent candidates were narrowed down to a final three in mid-December. Abrams was selected after those final candidates had met with groups of district staff and community members.
Board President Michael Lockwood described Abrams as someone who stood out mainly for his desire to be in Groton. The board felt he had the right enthusiasm for the job.
"We feel like you were the right fit for Groton," Lockwood said to Abrams.
"No pressure," Lockwood added, bringing a few laughs from other board members and faculty.
Abrams has also spent three years as principal of Horseheads High School and four years before that as an assistant principal of Ernie Davis Middle School in Elmira. He also taught high school English courses at Whitney Point from 1988 to 2001.
Abrams and his wife have four sons, ranging in age from 19 to 29. One lives in Cortland. Abrams is in the process of finding a residence within the Groton school district.
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