May 7, 2013

Interim administrators keep districts on track

PERU — Dr. Roger Catania’s title at Lake Placid Central School will be “interim superintendent” — he’ll be there for a little more than a year.

“My plan,” he said, “is to operate in no way different than I would if I were going to be there forever.

“That’s the kind of commitment I think I should have.”

Catania takes the top spot at LPCS right after Memorial Day, coming aboard with hopes of rebuilding school and community confidence through give-and-take, open lines of communication.

Along with the kinds of financial challenges faced by school districts around New York state, Lake Placid Central has struggled over personnel issues that led to a pervasive lack of confidence in present Superintendent Randy Richards.

The School Board did not renew his contract.

Catania says it’s time to quit looking “in the rear-view mirror and just look forward.”


It is not unusual for a school district to bring an interim superintendent aboard.

In September 2011, new Peru Central School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Stapleford left unexpectedly due to health reasons, and the School Board asked recently retired Superintendent A. Paul Scott to fill in during the search for another administrator.

Interims, Scott said, can be a good solution for districts dealing with an unanticipated vacancy because they allow the school to establish a suitable process for recruiting a quality successor.

That, he said, commonly takes up to five or six months.

“It sets the stage for the board to then start the process of recruiting a next superintendent,” he said.

During this time, he noted, the purpose of an interim is to help the organization move forward with its daily business as it prepares for the arrival of a long-term leader.

A temporary person at the helm, he said, can keep the district on its current path and attain certain goals, such as planning the following year’s budget, until a successor can be put in place.

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