Stephen A. Bovino, a retired Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda schools administrator who had served as the school district's interim superintendent for the past three months, was unanimously appointed to take on the role permanently by the Ken-Ton School Board on Wednesday.
He will be paid $165,000 a year to head the third largest district in the Buffalo area, with two high schools and 7,000 students.
"The district has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years, not the least of which was consolidation," said Bovino. "The plate has been very full and I think what we'd like to do in the next year is to catch our breath a bit and do an assessment of where we are with everything; then regroup and move forward."
Ken-Ton is behind only Buffalo and Williamsville in student enrollment. His starting salary will be less than that of his predecessor, Dawn F. Mirand, who was paid $170,000 when she was hired in 2014, after having served as superintendent in the Mount Morris School District.
Bovino said Mirand's prior experience as a superintendent is why she was hired at a higher salary.
He had been paid $600 per diem as an interim superintendent.
This week, the West Seneca School District, which is slightly smaller than Ken-Ton, hired Whitney K. Vantine as its interim superintendent at a rate of $750 a day, which works out to an annual salary of $195,000 a year. Vantine had prior experience as a superintendent for 22 years at various districts, including the City of Tonawanda School District.
The standard pay for an interim superintendent in Western New York is $650 to $700, according to Robert W. Christmann, executive director of Western New York Educational Services Council.
A candidate's experience and the local market can affect what superintendents and interim superintendents are paid, said Christmann, whose council has done superintendent searches recently in Rochester, Albany and Watkins Glen.
"There are a number of factors that go into it," he said.
Members of the council will determine a salary range with the School Board, he said. They consider the size of the district, what the current superintendent is making and what other superintendents in BOCES are making. The number of years of experience and academic preparation are considered, and a candidate with a doctorate may receive a higher salary. How successful the candidate has been in his or her last job is a factor, too, he said.
"If someone has been successful in the past, they'll be successful in the future," Christmann said.
Before becoming interim superintendent in Ken-Ton, Bovino had been retired for four months as assistant superintendent for human resources, a post he had for nearly 10 years. He came out of retirement to fill in and help in the search for a new superintendent when Mirand left, giving only five days notice.
Mirand said at Bovino's retirement that he had helped the district "weather many storms," including declining enrollment, school closures and changes in federal and state education policy, including "devastating budget cuts in Ken-Ton."
Ken-Ton's 2017-18 proposed budget paints a much better picture for the district and Bovino, with no increase in the tax levy, new programs and new staffing.
Bovino told the board at its March meeting that he had decided he would be willing to take the reins. Board members agreed they would like to put him in the spot after they held meetings with the staff, parents and community members who had been part of the search committee. Board President Jill O'Malley said Bovino was their ideal candidate. She said in district superintendent search surveys there had been a lot of support for Bovino remaining in the position.
He said he decided to seek the full-time position after dealing with some of the issues that came across his desk as interim superintendent.
"Going out to the buildings meeting with students and staff and just seeing the energy and the programs we have in place here, it sort of hit me that I wanted to be part of that and see these decisions through," said Bovino.
Prior to his experience as a Ken-Ton administrator, Bovino was a principal at John F. Kennedy High School in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District. He held several management positions in the private sector before he began his education career as a teacher and assistant principal in the Williamsville School District. Bovino has a bachelor of arts degree in history from the College of New Jersey, a doctorate of law degree from George Mason University School of Law, and administrative certification from State University of New York at Brockport.
Bovino lives in the Ken-Ton school district. Both of his children graduated from Kenmore West High School and are now living in Charlotte, N.C., along with his three grandchildren.
He said he spoke to his family about giving up his retirement and they have been supportive.
"There's weeks of vacation that superintendents manage somehow not to take and one of my goals will be to try and make use of those weeks to visit my kids and grandkids in Charlotte. I will utilize that vacation."