By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
CITY OF TONAWANDA — Dr. Whitney Vantine served his last day as superintendent last week, and since then, Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Scullion has been taking his place.
“If you have an assistant superintendent, they are trained in the capacity to be moved into the position,” school board President Jackie Smilinich said.
Scullion was appointed to the interim post at the board’s last meeting, held Oct. 9 and took her oath of office at the regular meeting Tuesday.
She is receiving a $500 stipend per week in addition to her salary, but the appointment is saving the district salary money, as hiring an individual outside of the district would have cost substantially more.
Scullion has a great deal of experience in education — she started out as an elementary school teacher at Catholic schools and was a long-term substitute teacher during that time.
She’s certified as a K-12 teacher, so has also taught business classes as well as graduate courses at universities.
“I also was a business owner of a restaurant in Niagara Falls for eight years,” Scullion said. “But education has always been my passion.”
After her teaching career, she transitioned into administration, working as a staff developer for Erie 1 BOCES and then serving as the Director of Instruction in the Starpoint district before coming to the City of Tonawanda six years ago as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, technology, staff development and assessment.
But in the past week, she’s taken on yet another duty as the interim superintendent.
“It’s exciting and challenging at the same time,” Scullion said.
She is shuffling between her two offices, keeping tabs on her two positions.
“I’m currently trying to move the district forward on the common core standards, I’ve negotiated with the unions for APPR and I’m keeping tabs on the capital project in addition to doing assessments,” Scullion said. “It’s a mixture of the present and working for the future.”
Scullion’s temporary assumption of the position came after Vantine announced his retirement in August. Vantine didn’t offer much of a reason apart from his desire to retire, but his announcement came at a big time for the district with capital project plans looming as well as other important district business pending, including a decision on what to do with Central School.
The search for Vantine’s replacement is moving forward, with initial interviews for six to nine candidates scheduled for this week.
The names of the candidates are not currently being released.
The interviews will be conducted by a search committee made up of community members involved in various city organizations. The committee members will be given a set list of questions and will then complete an anonymous survey about each candidate.
The board will use that feedback to whittle the candidates down to three or four individuals and will then conduct a second interview.
The position was first advertised Sept. 1 after the board met with Donald Ogilvie, superintendent for Erie 1 BOCES, who was appointed to head the search.
The salary range for the position was posted at no more than $160,000 after the board’s lengthy discussion last month.
Vantine was paid $158,000, but board members remain hesitant to pay a similar amount unless the candidate shows significant experience.
The current plan will have a new superintendent in place by January or February.
at 693-1000, ext. 4150.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.