Board of Education Decides on Approach to Superintendent Search Process

At a special meeting earlier this evening, the Board of Education voted unanimously on an approach to the superintendent search that provides for substantial community input overall, while the candidate and interview aspects of the process would remain confidential. Board members said that finding the very best leader for the school district is their top priority. The process that will be used is based on the advice of the Board’s search consultants from Capital Region BOCES, who have said that it will produce the strongest candidate pool while ensuring the Board’s decisions are guided by community input.

Community involvement in finding the next leader of the district began earlier this month with a district-wide survey that has received more than 400 responses and counting. The input will continue into September with 12 stakeholder forums. At these forums, the search consultants will hear directly from our stakeholders on what is needed in our next superintendent.

Last month, the Board retained Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent Anita Murphy, who is the most experienced search consultant for school boards in the area, and BOCES Deputy District Superintendent Lauren Gemmill to provide expert advice and counsel to the Board on the hiring process for a new superintendent. Murphy has conducted executive searches for school boards around the Capital Region and New York State in recent years. Both she and Gemmill have assured the Board that the full resources of the Capital Region BOCES will be utilized to identify the new Superintendent.

They have said that a confidential search guided by substantial community input has proven to be the most successful at generating larger and stronger applicant pools for the superintendent position – the chief executive of the school district. This type of search means that all applicants for the position of superintendent apply directly to the BOCES search consultants. BOCES and the Board of Education members then work together to identify, from the entire applicant pool, who meets the district’s criteria, guided by the community input, and who will be interviewed. Interviews are then conducted with the Board of Education, and the names of the candidates are not publicly disclosed.

“The fact is that this is an executive search process,” Murphy has said. “Proven executives who are successfully leading their current organizations are not looking for publicity that they are open to going to another organization. We have seen time and again that the best pool of candidates results from this confidential approach. That’s exactly what we are focused on for Niskayuna – the best person to lead the district.”

Board members emphasized the importance of community involvement to influence the kind of leader the Board looks for, how Board members approach the interview process and the ultimate selection of a candidate.

The community survey and forums focus on the characteristics that are desired in the next leader, the strengths of our school district, areas that could be improved and perspectives about what the next superintendent will need to work on first.

“We know that the community has an incredibly important role in all aspects of our schools. What we learn from the community is going to be critical in making sure that we don’t just bring a great leader here, but we bring a leader here that will be great for Niskayuna. As a Board, we believe the approach that has been recommended and that we are taking will get us to that point,” said Board of Education President Kimberly Tully.

The superintendent search survey will be open through Sept. 15 and can be accessed right here: The schedule of forums is below.

All of the survey results and notes from the forums will be shared directly with the Board of Education.

The broad timeline that the BOCES search partners have outlined calls for the application period to open in late September, close at the end of October and interviews to take place in November and December. The district will have an interim superintendent while the search and selection process take place and until the next leader begins in the district.

Upcoming Superintendent Search Forums

All of the forums are in-person in the Niskayuna High School auditorium except for the virtual forum on Sept. 2. Social distancing will be observed and masks will be required.

  • Monday, Aug. 30: Administration, 3:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 30: Community Forum, 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 2: Operations & Maintenance Department, 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 2: Virtual Community Forum, 6:30 p.m. (RSVP Here by Thursday, Sept. 2 at 3:00 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 9: High School Students, 3:15 p.m.
  • Monday, Sept. 13: Teaching Assistants, 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 14: All Support Staff, 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 15: Faculty, 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.