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A tough year just got tougher for the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District.

Still smarting from a series of controversies over spending on travel, training and parties, the School Board now must find a replacement for Superintendent Robert McClure.

"We just have to go on," Trustee Dan Wiles said. "What else can you do?"

McClure, who became superintendent in 1994, Thursday signed a five-year contract to become superintendent for Shenendehowa Central School District, near Albany. McClure's new job starts Jan. 5. McClure, who will be paid $125,000 a year, could not be reached to comment.

His departure comes at a time when the board's assignment book is already plenty full.

Just two weeks ago, trustees agreed to tackle several issues this year, including starting full-day kindergarten, expanding busing and revamping the budget process.

"It might have changed how much we took on" if McClure had informed the board he would be leaving, Wiles said.

In the meantime, board Vice President Anne Evans said the board needs to start the search for a new superintendent as soon as possible.

The board can take many routes in the search: it can lead one itself, hire a consultant or rely on help from the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, she said.

But Felix Ingrao, who heads the Ken-Ton Concerned Taxpayers Association, said he hopes the board will closely involve the public in the hunt for a new superintendent.

He said trustees should ask community members and groups what they would like in a new superintendent, "since we are footing the bill."

Doing so, Ingrao said, might help repair the rift between district officials and voters, who did not re-elect one incumbent and narrowly approved the budget this year.

Wiles, the newest trustee, said he has no problem with carving out a role for the public "so long as people understand the final decision is the board's. That's what we were elected for."

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