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Process to replace Ogilvie is outlined

The Buffalo School Board is taking a key step in seeking a replacement for interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie by beginning a search for a deputy superintendent who could ultimately step up and lead the district.

The district posted the deputy superintendent position on its website Friday and is sending it out to the state and national superintendents associations, as well. Ogilvie, who has conducted superintendent searches himself, said he also circulated the posting through his own connections.

“We need to have that position in place,” he said during Wednesday night’s School Board meeting when he announced the job postings.

There is a sense that Ogilvie’s tenure is coming to an end, said board President James M. Sampson. Given that, officials want to act sooner rather than later.

“We’re going to move forward with a search for a deputy with the understanding that person may be the next superintendent,” Sampson said.

Ogilvie’s departure has been discussed for months, but what hasn’t been as clear is how the board would go about looking for replacement.

Board members have run the gamut from appointing someone from within to conducting a large-scale search for a new leader.

Last month, several members said they did not want to conduct a large-scale search, fearing that their options would be limited because of the district’s reputation for political turmoil. It’s no secret among education insiders that some highly sought-after candidates are reluctant to come here because of politics many see as a potential career killer.

Still, there could be those with ties to the community and a commitment to turning around the city’s struggling schools who would want to give it a shot.

Buffalo could be an appealing option for an educator looking to make his or her mark on an urban school system – so long as the person is up to the challenge of dealing with a contentious board and a great deal of public scrutiny and oversight.

The approach to looking for a deputy takes somewhat of a middle ground, giving others a chance to apply and be considered – whether from City Hall or across the country. That could include any prospects whom board members already have in mind, or someone from the outside eager to take the helm of the state’s second-largest school system.

It also would give the deputy a chance to work alongside Ogilvie for whatever time remains before he leaves the position.

Ogilvie talked about the urgency of finding someone to fill the post.

“We have had a vacancy in that position for several months, and it’s time that we fill it. We need the help,” he told board members. “We have posted it, and you’ll see that it is consistent with the deputy position in the past. However, it does bring in additional emphasis on an increasing role with compliance issues with both state education and the federal government.”

The job posting states that a doctorate is preferred, although not required, and that the ideal candidate should have eight years of supervisory experience. It is also expresses a preference for administrative experience in an urban school district with a racially and economically diverse population.

All board members will have a chance to interview the finalists for the position before one is selected.

Ogilvie presented a timeline for filling the deputy superintendent position. Applicants will be interviewed the week of March 23, and recommendations will be made to the School Board by March 29. Officials are looking at a June 1 start date for the hire. “It’s a tight schedule,” Ogilvie said.

When the résumés come in, Ogilvie said, he wants the board to interview top candidates individually or in small groups “so that you can get a comfort level with some of these individuals.”

The top candidates also will be introduced to the Cabinet, he said, “because the deputy is part of the Cabinet.”

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