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Ken-Ton superintendent retiring

Dawn F. Mirand is retiring after nearly 2½ years as superintendent of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, and the public was given five days notice.

Mirand, 56, made the surprise announcement by email Thursday morning to district faculty and staff.

"After over 31 years in education, it's time for a new adventure!" she wrote in the email obtained and verified by The Buffalo News. "I have submitted my intention to retire as the Ken-Ton Superintendent of Schools as of January 10, 2017 to the Board for their approval at their next meeting. This is something I have been thinking about since October and the Board and I have agreed this is the best time."

The short notice of Mirand's departure from the helm of one of Erie County's largest school districts is unusual for a superintendent. Her predecessor, Mark P. Mondanaro, announced at a Jan. 2014 School Board meeting that his last day would be six months later.

West Seneca School Superintendent Mark J. Crawford, one of Western New York's longest serving educators and school superintendents, said in November he would retire March 3. But last month he agreed to postpone his retirement date to give the board more time to find his replacement.

By contrast, there are only 5 days between Mirand's email Thursday and her last day Tuesday.

Mirand did not respond Thursday to a request for comment, issuing only a statement through a district news release.

But School Board President Jill Y. O'Malley said the announcement was expected. She acknowledged that while the board and Mirand have had "differences of opinion" over her tenure, the decision to leave was Mirand's only.

"We are a young board and she is a young superintendent," said O'Malley, who is the board's senior member and nearing the end of her first term. "So I think there's always some growing pains there and I can't blame any one individual."

The relationship between the district's administrative team and the union representing its teachers seems to have improved since April when teachers publicly unleashed a litany of criticisms on issues such as curriculum and assessment and a perceived lack of collaboration on those issues.

Mirand was primarily brought in to see Ken-Ton through to completion of a reorganization project that closed two elementary schools and a middle school to start the 2016-17 school year. The district has also seen shrinking enrollment to its current 6,820 students.

Prior to taking over as superintendent in Ken-Ton on Aug. 1, 2014, Mirand was head of Mount Morris Central School District in Livingston County. She was selected from three finalists to succeed Mondanaro, who retired after seven years in the position.

“We are confident she is the person to lead us in the continuation as we set our goals and our sights on being a premier school district by the year 2020,” then-Board President Bob Dana said when Mirand was introduced in May 2014.

At that time, she signed a five-year contract worth $170,000 per year.

The next year, the board voted to extend her contract by one year until June 30, 2020 and also gave her a 2 percent raise. In 2016, she agreed to freeze her salary for the 2016-17 school year to assist the district as it grappled with the loss of $3 million in revenue from the closing of the Huntley Station power plant on River Road.

"I am very proud of our work and accomplishments over the past three years through the numerous changes including a major consolidation, a multimillion dollar capital project, and restoring the district to good standing status with the NYS Education Department," Mirand wrote in the email. "I have enjoyed my time in KenTon with such wonderful students and supportive school community, and enjoyed working with the incredible team here."

She previously worked as an elementary school principal in Lake Shore Central School District from 2006-2011 and a teacher in the Clarence schools from 1986-2006. She graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and Early Childhood Education, and a Master’s Degree in Education. She earned her administrative certificate from Canisius College.

The board is expected to accept Mirand's resignation Tuesday at its regular meeting and appoint an interim superintendent while a search for a permanent successor is conducted.

"The district certainly has undergone a lot of changes during her tenure here," O'Malley said. "I give her some credit. She's really looking forward to the next chapter of her life and we fully support her in that new adventure."


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