February 24, 2011


Marathon begins search for school superintendent

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — The Board of Education met with its Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES representative Wednesday to begin the process of finding its next superintendent.
BOCES District Superintendent Jessica Cohen said the board would probably need to find an interim superintendent for the summer as it completes the search.
Superintendent of Schools Timothy Turecek resigned this month after serving as superintendent since 2004. He will leave in June.
Turecek presented a guest lecture to an advanced psychology class at the high school that concerned some parents and students and revealed underlying tensions with faculty.
The board can decide to have Cohen conduct the search for free or pay a consultant to do it.
If selected, Cohen will work with the board to define the characteristics, salary range, and terms and conditions of employment the district is looking for in its next superintendent.
Superintendent searches typically take at least five or six months, Cohen said.
The board would develop a vacancy notice brochure with Cohen that gets distributed to about 800 superintendents, search consultants and college placement offices. It would also be put on the BOCES and district Web pages.
The consultant would circulate the brochure and collect candidates for four to six weeks before beginning reference checks.
After the reference checks, the board selects and reviews the applicants, chooses its semifinalists and finalists, then brings the candidates in for interviews and to meet with community groups.
The final candidate usually has to give 60-days notice before he or she can begin the job.
If the board chooses to have Cohen do the search, it would only cost about $460 for advertising the superintendent position in various publications, as well as small printing and postage costs, Cohen said.
Several board members asked Cohen if school boards are requiring potential superintendents to become residents within their school districts.
“I think if you listen to the community here, they would say that (the superintendent) has to be here,” said board member Michael Gerber. “That’s one of the biggest things I’ve heard since I’ve been on the board.”
Cohen said smaller districts usually do not require superintendents to live within their districts. Medium and larger districts sometimes do require or at least prefer that they do, she said.
“If you require residency, you limit your pool (of candidates),” Cohen said. “If you prefer residency, you limit your pool a little less. If you don’t say anything about residency you get a wider pool.”
Turecek has not lived in school district during his tenure.
She said it’s up to the board to decide the characteristics and expectations it wants for its next superintendent.
Cohen also conducted the superintendent search for Homer Central School District last year. McGraw used the Rural Schools Association at Cornell University.
Cohen said finding a superintendent is one of the school board’s most important duties.
“The superintendent and the board together provide the leadership for the district,” Cohen said. “In terms of school board responsibilities, the major responsibility of the board is to hire and supervise the superintendent.”
Cohen said she could provide the district with a list of interim superintendents in the area.
Cohen suggested the school board look for retired superintendents who live within a short distance of Marathon. They should have experience serving as interim superintendents, she said.
Interim superintendents are usually paid by the day, with no retirement or health benefits, Cohen said.
“From this point on, your job is to help make the next superintendent successful,” Cohen said to the school board. “So everything we do throughout the search process, how we communicate, how we share information, how we select people, is really all about how you build-in success.”
John Lutz, retired Cortland superintendent, recently served as Groton’s interim superintendent.


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