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Croft named superintendent of Starpoint school district

PENDLETON – Starpoint Central School announced Tuesday that its Board of Education has decided to promote Sean M. Croft to superintendent as of July 1.

Croft, 42, has worked at Starpoint since 2000, when he was hired as a school psychologist. For the past nine years, he has been director of instruction, a title which became assistant superintendent for instruction, assessment and staff development in 2013.

He has accepted a three-year contract with starting pay of $155,000 a year, which was approved by the board Monday night. Croft, a West Seneca resident who is not being required to move into the district, will take over July 1 for the retiring C. Douglas Whelan.

“Dr. Whelan has been a tremendous mentor,” Croft said. Whelan, the longest-serving superintendent in Starpoint’s 60-year history, is stepping down after 17 years in office.

Croft said Starpoint’s test scores and graduation rates have shown steady improvement, moving the district into the top 10 in Western New York. “We’ve just made tremendous academic gains and changed the whole culture of the school district,” Croft said. “Teachers are buying in, and administrators, and it’s all coming together.”

Board President Michael Zimmerman said in a prepared statement, “Dr. Croft has demonstrated his tong-term commitment to excellence during his past 16 years at Starpoint and will continue to be a wonderful asset to our district as superintendent. He has been integral to our district’s successes and is extremely cognizant of the challenges the district faces. His record for high expectations for himself and the entire school community is well known. Dr. Croft’s collaborative leadership style and dynamic approach to education will benefit all of our students, school personnel, parents, while supporting the Starpoint community as a whole.”

The board chose Croft over two outside finalists – Marie Balen, assistant superintendent for instruction in the Williamsville district, and John E. McKenna, principal of Fletcher Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda. Each finalist had a full day in early March to meet with the staff and members of the public.

Croft has a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College, a master’s degree and a certificate of advanced studies from Rochester Institute of Technology and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University at Buffalo.

Last month, the State Comptroller’s Office criticized Starpoint for having too large a fund balance and said the district should cut taxes. Croft said, “We’re going to be taking a look at that.”

But he added that the state doesn’t hesitate to rate districts as fiscally stressed if they don’t have enough money to pay expenses. “We feel we’re fiscally responsible. We feel we can absorb the tumultuous things that happen,” Croft said.