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West Seneca schools superintendent postpones retirement date

West Seneca School Superintendent Mark J. Crawford has agreed to delay his retirement planned for March 3.

It's unknown how much additional time Crawford plans to work in the post he has held for six and a half years, overseeing one of the region's largest suburban school districts with more than 6,600 students in nine schools.

But School Board President Kate Newton said the board earlier this month asked Crawford if he would postpone his retirement date a bit to give the board more time to find his replacement.

"We have not worked out any of the details to that, but he was agreeable to that," Newton said Thursday in an interview.

The board had been ready to formally accept Crawford's retirement at its Dec. 12 meeting, but then decided to ask Crawford if he would readjust his departure date. "We sprung it on him in about one minute. He had been on the agenda," Newton said. "We're still working out the details with him."

Crawford - with 43 years in education, 16.5 of them at West Seneca schools - announced in November he would retire in March. As superintendent, he earns $194,105. He also served as principal for nine years of the district's Northwood Elementary School, and previously served a stint as superintendent in the Hamburg Central School District. He could not be reached to comment Thursday.

Related: West Seneca superintendent explains why he's retiring

Newton said the board is willing to consider appointing an interim superintendent, if necessary.

"We're going to really take our time. If we need to put a place holder in there, we will, to find the right person," Newton said. "If it's after Mark has left, and a new one cannot start right away," the board is willing to be patient "if the match is something we're willing to wait for. "

"We know we have an uphill battle trying to find somebody," she said. "We have a big district and need to take our time. We are in no rush."

The district earlier this month advertised for proposals from prospective superintendent search consultants to help guide it in selecting a new superintendent. Those proposals are due to the district by 10 a.m. Friday. In its request, the district noted that the board anticipates appointing a new superintendent between April 1 and July 1.

"We're going to make sure we get the right consultant in there to help us," Newton said.

The district advertised locally for search consultants, as well as casting its net to Rochester and the Albany area. The West Seneca district covers 25 square miles, including most of West Seneca, and portions of the towns of Cheektowaga, Orchard Park and Hamburg.

Board members next week will review the proposals - some already have been submitted - before a field of consultant candidates will be narrowed and prospective ones interviewed by Newton and board Vice President Gwen Phillips on Jan. 10 and 11.

"We really don't want to be interviewing 1,000 people. We will narrow it down," Newton said.

Newton declined to speculate on the range of costs for the consultant, saying there is a broad range.

A tentative timeline for the search is expected to be outlined at the board's next meeting on Jan. 9. The board could call a special additional meeting in January to hire a search consultant.


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