May 6, 2013

Superintendency attracts fewer educators

PLATTSBURGH — Since entering the education business nearly 50 years ago, Gerald Blair has watched the job of public-school superintendent change dramatically.

The difficulties associated with producing equitable spending plans, ensuring students are meeting state standards and keeping teachers and principals informed of increasing expectations have grown significantly for district leaders in recent years, according to the interim superintendent of Northeastern Clinton Central School in Champlain.

Blair, who began his career with a decade of teaching, was the superintendent of Lake Placid Central School from 1980 to 1997 and has since served as an interim administrator in several area school districts, including Chazy and Schroon central and Northern Adirondack in Ellenburg.

“I thoroughly enjoy the work,” Blair said. “I thoroughly enjoy being around kids, but I don’t know if I’d want to rise to this level starting out in today’s world.”

And it seems Blair is not alone with his sentiments.

According to a report issued by the New York State Council of School Superintendents, titled “Snapshot 2012: The 8th Triennial Study of the Superintendency in New York,” evidence shows “fewer educators are interested in becoming school district superintendents.”

The report points to the findings of a 2008 survey conducted by SUNY Albany, which indicate that the number of applicants per superintendent vacancy went from 43 to 26 in the previous 10 years.

“We’re seeing the same trend in the North Country,” said Champlain Valley Educational Services Superintendent Craig King, who serves as a search consultant to area school boards seeking superintendents.

King recently assisted Saranac Central School in its national search for a successor to longtime district leader Ken Cringle, who, last November, announced his plans to retire this July.

“We were advised by Mr. King to be prepared for a limited number of candidates,” said Saranac School Board President Tracy Allen-Waite.

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