MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – At long last, the Mount Vernon School District has found a permanent replacement for interim Superintendent Judith Johnson, with New Jersey native Dr. Kenneth Hamilton being named as her successor.
Hamilton, who served the same position in Monroe Township, brings nearly 20 years of experience, most at inner city schools, to the superintendent’s office. He will officially begin his three-year contract on Aug. 11, earning an annual salary of $250,000.
The Columbus, N.J. resident served as a special education teacher before transitioning to administration in 2009.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to use my experience to create a culture that raises expectations for staff, students and parents,” he said. “I have no doubt that Mount Vernon schools will exemplify how collaboration and high expectations can shape the future of all children.”
The appointment of Hamilton comes after an exhaustive, two-year search as the Board of Education sought the top candidate. The board identified four finalists in March before determining that Hamilton was the right man for the job.
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 sought a superintendent with financial management expertise with the “ability to turn around a school district in crisis.”
According to the district, Hamilton comes to Mount Vernon having implemented the largest iPad initiative on the East Coast, piloted the state’s new Teacher Evaluation System and oversaw a district that was named among the “Top 100 Best School Districts” by the U.S. News and World Report.
“The Board of Education is looking forward to working with Dr. Hamilton and welcoming him into our entire educational community,” new Board President Elias Gootzeit said on behalf of trustees. “We wish to extend our appreciation to the community-based search committee for identifying the suitable criteria for a permanent superintendent.”
Hamilton’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for the Mount Vernon School District, as it begins something of a rebuilding process. In the last year, the district announced a planned transition to a “K-8” model, a technology initiative and students and teachers struggled to adapt to the new Common Core Learning Standards.
The new superintendent, who has spent his entire career in New Jersey, knows he has a challenge on his hands but said he is prepared to step up to the plate for his new district.
“I look forward to getting to know the staff, students and their families to create a unified sense of urgency around efforts to improve the district and increase student outcomes at all level,” he said. “I am prepared to face the challenges the district presents with an immediate focus on whole district reform and taking steps for increasing high school graduation rates.”