Joan D. Thomas saw “interim” removed from her title Tuesday when the North Collins School Board unanimously voted to retain her full time for three years.
Thomas, who joined the district last December, has agreed to a contract that will keep her as the district’s head through June 30, 2017.
North Collins school officials are pleased with the direction Thomas is taking the district and Board President Shannon Locking offered no regrets about retaining her.
“The board is comfortable with our decision,” Locking said, adding the board had interviewed six candidates before offering the interim post to Thomas, who has more than 40 years of experience in education.
Thomas said the original plan was for her to serve for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year. About halfway through her interim period, she was approached about staying on with the district after the school year.
“I like working, I love the district; great teachers, super kids, nice parents,” Thomas said. “As we continue to move forward, there’s a sense that we’re doing things; we’re making changes that are for the success of the students.”
The district appointed Thomas to the post on an interim basis to replace Benjamin Halsey, who left to accept a similar position with the Oswego City School District.
For Thomas, this is the second time she has accepted a school district’s top post after starting out on an interim capacity. She was appointed interim superintendent of the Orchard Park School District in early 2005 then accepted the position full-time a few months later.
Thomas retired from Orchard Park after the 2009-10 school year to become the head of Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo, a post she held until it closed in 2013.
After leading a large district like Orchard Park, Thomas had to make some adjustments at North Collins. She explained that in Orchard Park there were roughly 20 administrators but in North Collins there are three. That makes not only for more work but also more responsibility with each decision.
“Everything centers on the children and academic success, which it should,” Thomas said. “Here, you are the people. There are no extra administrators and that was a little difficult. The challenge for me is to be able to do all of it, and do it well.”
While the board rolled out the welcome mat for Thomas, it also said goodbye to the district’s transportation supervisor. James Hourihan, who joined North Collins in 2007, tendered his resignation effective June 30.
Locking said Hourihan gave no reason for his decision. “He’s moving on,” Hourihan said.
The district is searching for a temporary head bus driver, but Thomas said it will explore the possibility of sharing services with a neighboring district.