Mount Vernon Down To Four Superintendent Finalists

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The four candidates for Mount Vernon superintendent.
The four candidates for Mount Vernon superintendent.

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – After a lengthy search process, the Mount Vernon Board of Education has narrowed its search to four finalists looking to replace interim Superintendent Judith Johnson.


Who Is Your Top Candidate For Mount Vernon Superintendent?

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Reader Results

Who Is Your Top Candidate For Mount Vernon Superintendent?

  • Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton

  • Robert-Wayne Harris

  • Dr. David C. McCalla

  • Dr. Richard D. Tomko

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The board met with each of the candidates during a lengthy public interview last week, and is now seeking the public’s input with an online survey. Each candidate has a wealth of experience and fits the criteria the district determined they were looking for in candidates.

In a survey last year, the public determined the board should seek a candidate with a minimum of five years experience working in a central office. They further are looking for a superintendent with financial management expertise who has the “ability to turn around a school district in crisis.”

“One of the most important processes in which a school board president is involved is the search for and appointment of a new superintendent,” recently appointed School Board President Leonard Sarver said. “This is of critical importance to this school district at this time.”

Kenneth Hamilton has a lengthy resume that includes positions at every level. He has worked exclusively in New Jersey, working his way from special education teacher vice principal and principal in various school districts before being named the Superintendent of Schools in Monroe Township.

“We need to create an environment that supports staff, encourages teaching excellence and adapts to the changing needs of students,’ he said.

Dr. David Calvin McCalla is a familiar name in the Mount Vernon School District, where he served as Director of Assessment and Data Management in 2004 before assuming an assistant superintendent position. After leaving the district, he served as principal at Albany High School before retiring to Miami, where he continues volunteering as a tutor, coach and speaker.

“I always said, I’d never be an administrator,” he joked. “Well, I’ll tell you what, never say you won’t do something.”

Robert-Wayne Harris is currently working as an educational consultant while pursuing his doctorate in the Educational Leadership Doctoral program at Hofstra University. He has worked at every level during his career as an educator, from substitute teacher to superintendent of the Roosevelt Union Free School District, another district in turmoil.

He said there needs to be a specific set of standards for both teachers and students.

“Once you walk in and accept expectations, students will quickly fall in line,” he said. “Students need to be held to the highest moral, academic and ethical standards.”

Dr. Richard Tomko, the superintendent of the Elmwood Park Public School District in New Jersey, also serves as an adjunct professor of English at Bergen Community College. He is presently in the process of completing his Master of Jurisprudence degree in Children’s Law and Policy. During his 19-year career, he has held numerous administrative positions and has overseen budgets that feature a 0 percent increase to the tax levy.

“I know that (financial experience) is something that’s important here. Taxes are low in town, right,” he joked. “We have to do more with less.”

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Comments (5)


The "reader results", in my opinion, does not state the input number of participants.

I guess this is the best they could find? But then, who would want to be a Superintendent of the disastrous Mount Vernon School District?
Based on the information quoted in the DV article, here are my comments:
McCalla - NO. He was already involved in the MVSD years ago, and he chose to leave. So he should not be given the opportunity to further destroy the schools. He once said he would never be an administrator, so why did he
change his mind? Did the offer of mega bucks have anything to do with his decision?
Harris - NO. He said the "students need to be held to the highest moral, academic and ethical standards.” What about the administrators, teachers, and ALL others in the educational system? Maybe he has double standards?
Tomko - NO. I almost considered him to be the best candidate of the four, but after reading his "joke" about the "low taxes" in Mount Vernon, I pushed him out. The unjustifiably high taxes in this city are nothing to joke about.
Hamilton - MAYBE. Not much is known about him, other than what has been mentioned in the article, so I won't decide one way or the other.
BUT, whoever is selected as the Superintendent, he will be under the cloud of control administered by the Mayor, Ernie Davis, who exerts much control over the school district.

My utility bills are taxed, my property is taxed and yet we are looking for a superintendent who has crisis management experience. Who or what has put us in this position (financial mismanagement, corruption or both)?

I was there, I watched and I heard the presentations. I paid close attention to the questions asked by the board members. I paid little attention to questions asked by the public. I believe the questions, presented by the public, will be as usual totally ignored. Their claims about safety issues have been ignored over a period of years and nothing has been done to correct those issues (school board). Non-functioning elevators, water fountains and lack of entrance ramps? The SCHOOL BOARD should be embarrassed for not doing the functions you were elected to perform. Teachers recommending, to parents, that a gifted child should be taken out of this system? What does that say about the morale of our teaching staff? Is there too much emphasis being placed upon financial manipulation and less on needs of the children? Are the teachers looking towards the future (gaming the system) awaiting a ride on the tenure gravy train?

I pay my taxes and really have no choice but to pay them, regardless how I may feel. However: I am concerned about the disbursement of those funds. Should a School Superintendent be selected based on his knowledge of finances or is this a criteria set by this board? I wonder why, although to me it’s quite evident. Isn’t the job of the superintendent to point out the needs and the board to find ways to fund it?

In my opinion, although I know it does not count at all, I believe: The YES man will be appointed and the children will be continually robbed of their education. I have seen, over a quite period of time, the emphasis being placed upon questionable financial manipulations, political pandering, nepotism and springboard attempts for high political positions. I have no faith in this entire school board, I believe the person, that they select, will be the one who they consider to be less of a roadblock for their personal endeavors.
My vote goes to the person who is physically fit and mentally capable to perform a very demanding task (to me there is but 1). Three appear to be (take away the titles) worn tires looking for a retread.

"I believe the person, that they select, will be the one who they consider to be less of a roadblock for their personal endeavors."

I believe this to be the case, as well.

@cryptoguardian - did anyone in the public ask each of the candidates, "What is your real, sincere interest in being Superintendent of the Mount Vernon Schools, OTHER than the attraction of a salary of a quarter of a million dollars per year?"?
Nothing is being said of the salary and benefits and other provisions of a contract. Will it be a one or two year probational contract, or a full five years contract with all sorts of severance goodies if the person fails in his job?