MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – After a lengthy and exhaustive search for a new Mount Vernon superintendent of schools, the district has narrowed its search to the semifinalists.
The search to replace interim Superintendent Judith Johnson began more than two years ago, in July 2011. The district named three finalists for the position in June, before mutually determining none were a good fit.
Earlier this year, the district created an online survey for the community, polling which characteristics and qualities were most important for a superintendent. In the next head of schools, the community is seeking a candidate with personal knowledge of Mount Vernon that can collaborate seamlessly between the district and community.
The district is seeking 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.”
In all, 57 resumes were received, though only 13 fit the criteria the district seeks. Additionally two withdrew from the process, narrowing the field to 11 interviews.
Just six of the 11 interviewees have received an invitation to interview with the board of trustees. Once the semifinalists have completed that interview, the field will be trimmed to three finalists, who will participate in a community forum. The finalist is expected to be chosen by the end of January.
According to the Board of Education, “if the trustees determine that there is an insufficient choice among the six, then the board will direct the Superintendent Search Committee to re-open the search. If the trustees determine that there are three top finalists, or if less than three is sufficient, the top finalists will be presented for a public, community-wide, forum.”
Johnson was initially hired on a one-year contract last year to replace former interim Superintendent Waverline Bennett-Conroy, who was serving in place of the suspended Walton Sawyer. Earlier this year, she announced that she would remain in the position for one more year before officially retiring.
Whoever is chosen as Johnson’s replacement will have large shoes to fill, as the interim superintendent has built an impressive resume in her years working in education.
As the head of the Peekskill School District from 2001 to 2011, her schools twice earned “most improved” accolades from the State Department of Education. High school graduation rates have also increased dramatically at every district she took the helm at.
In 2008, the state Council of School Superintendents named Johnson as its superintendent of the year. Outside of her work in school systems, Johnson is also a former education official of the Clinton administration.
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