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Ken-Ton board starts superintendent search

The head of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board said she would like to have a new superintendent chosen by May, before the school board elections.

Jill Y. O'Malley, the board's president,  said she would like the board members involved in the search to be the ones who vote on the final candidate. Two seats are up for election. But O'Malley said she would not insist on that timeline if board members do not find a qualified candidate in time.

Board members, who held a roundtable information session on Thursday to plan the search for a new superintendent, voted to use Erie 1 BOCES to oversee the search process, rather than a private firm for the search, as was done in 2014, but stressed they want a national search.

The  board hired Dawn Mirand as superintendent in 2014, signing her to a five-year contract at $170,000 a year. Mirand had come from Mount Morris School District in Livingston County, where she was superintendent in a district with an enrollment of about 500 students and $13.8 million budget. The Ken-Ton district enrolls more than 7,000 students and has a budget of more than $150 million.

Mirand abruptly retired a few weeks ago, giving just five days notice.

The board quickly replaced her with an interim superintendent, Stephen Bovino, a former assistant superintendent for human resources, who had retired Sept. 30.

"I will be with you until you find that right person," Bovino assured board members and representatives from parents groups, teachers, support staff and administrators at the meeting Thursday.

Bovino pointed out the shortage of superintendent candidates. Other districts are also searching, he said. He said a principal's skill set in a large school district could work well.

"There is no exact recipe for the right amount of experience, the right size," said Patrick Heyden, president of the Kenmore Administrators' Association. "One danger might be someone coming from a small school district who tries to impose a smaller school mentality on larger district like Ken-Ton. Sometimes that just doesn't work - but that doesn't mean that it's going to happen."

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