Board to begin interviewing superintendent candidates

The Whitehall Board of Education expects to begin interviewing candidates for district superintendent next week.

Board president Virginia Rivette said last week members selected six candidates from those that applied and interviews will begin Monday and Tuesday.

“We met with Mr. (James) Dexter (WSHWE BOCES Superintendent) Monday evening, reviewed the applications and selected who we wanted to interview,” Rivette said. “We chose who we thought would be the best fit. It was a very hard choice.”

Dexter is leading the search for a new superintendent and the position has been advertised throughout the state. He compiled a list of candidates, verified their credentials and has been consulting the board throughout the process.

A total of nine candidates applied for the job, including Whitehall High School Principal Kelly McHugh, Business Manager Joe Karas, and former Whitehall business manager Cindy Turkout.

Three separate committees have been established to provide input during the hiring process and will conduct interviews. Rivette said the committees consist of community members, administrative staff, teachers, non-instructional staff members, and former and current board members.

“We chose a broad scope of people to give us different points of view,” she said.

Following the interview process, board members will consider the input of the committees and narrow the list down to two or three candidates.

Those finalists will then be invited back for a second interview, after which point the district will make a final determination as to whom to hire. The board hopes to appoint a new superintendent by the end of August and have that person start later this fall.

“Hopefully we can have someone in place by the end of October,” Rivette said.

Current Superintendent James Watson announced in May that he will retire after more than 28 years at the helm of the district.

He has agreed to remain as superintendent until a new candidate has been selected and is ready to begin.

Although he hasn’t been involved in the hiring process, Watson said last month his goal was to ensure a smooth transition.

“I don’t see the need for an interim superintendent. There’s no urgency not to be here,” he said.

Rivette said the position carries with it a residency requirement and while the timeframe for moving into the district is negotiable, most board members have agreed that a year should be sufficient time.

The district will offer a three-year contract with an annual salary between $120,000 and $130,000 to whoever is chosen to fill the position.

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