by Timothy Chipp
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Niagara-Wheatfield is closing in on its next superintendent of schools.
The district’s school board will be holding two days of interviews for candidates next week, which President Steve Sabo dubbed “semifinalist interviews.”
“This is the second-from-last round of interviews,” Sabo said Thursday. “We’ll be conducting our final interviews hopefully in two weeks.”
Niagara-Wheatfield has been without a regular leader since former Superintendent Carl Militello retired in February 2011 in the midst of a budget crisis which left the district in shambles. A roughly $7 million deficit resulted in the district raising its tax levy almost 5 percent and eliminating more than 70 full-time positions.
Business Manager Kerin Dumphrey took over in the immediate aftermath of the Militello retirement before the district hired former Iroquois School District Superintendent James Knowles for the current school year. But upon hiring Knowles, Sabo and the rest of the seven-member board began a national search to find a permanent fixture.
Having already eliminated some of the applicants, Sabo said he’s been impressed with the remaining individuals.
“It’s a talented pool of candidates,” he said. “Will we hire someone? It’s difficult to say because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the interviews. But there are some great candidates.”
While the board is busy trying to find its next leader, its business office is losing its chief. Dumphrey, who submitted his retirement request in February, was approved to exit the district. And he’ll do it in a shortened timeframe, Sabo said.
The Niagara-Wheatfield mainstay, who’s called the district home for more than 20 years, will work his final day March 15, Sabo said.
In response, the district has entered into a shared services contract with Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the year, Sabo said.
Whoever receives the assignment from BOCES would serve two days per week for the remainder of the school year.
“The way we figure, once we hire a superintendent, we’ll let that person hire someone they can work with,” Sabo said of replacing Dumphrey.
Dumphrey’s departure does leave the district in a bit of a lurch, heading into prime time for his position. Districts across the state are busy preparing budgets for the upcoming school year and Niagara-Wheatfield is no different.
But Sabo said the budget is almost ready to go and should require minimal work outside of figuring out what needs to be cut.
“All of the leg work is basically done,” he said. “The next piece is the cuts. It’s just a matter of figuring out the calculations.”With mug - NIA NW School Board mug 031013 Steve Sabo Searching for super