Albion looks to hire interim superintendent before start of next school year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2020 at 2:19 pm

Bonnewell will stay as administrator, evaluating teachers

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Bonnewell speaks during a district-wide concert on March 3 in the high school gym. This was one of the last big district-wide events before Covid-19 closed the campus to the community.

ALBION — The school district announced today that an interim superintendent will likely be hired before the start of the school year in September, while current superintendent, Michael Bonnewell, will transition to an administrator in charge of evaluating teachers.

In March, Bonnewell and the district announced he would work one more year for Albion and then retire. That would give the district time to hire his successor.

The Board of Education and Bonnewell decided to modify that timeline after a meeting on June 4. At a BOE meeting three days earlier on June 1, BOE meetings said Bonnewell hadn’t been effective communicating with the board and community about how the school was serving students during the pandemic and preparing for graduation and reopening the schools next year.

Bonnewell responded that the administration team has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. But board members said they weren’t aware of that work and communication has been continuing shortcoming for the superintendent.

Kathy Harling, Board of Education president, said in a letter to the community that Bonnewell has shown a commitment and love of students at Albion.

“Please know that this decision was made collectively between Mr. Bonnewell and the Board, and was done with the best interest of the District and its student sin mind,” Harling said in a letter posted on the district website. “The Board commends Mr. Bonnewell for his service and dedication to the District.”

Bonnewell is in his 10th year as Albion superintendent of schools. He came to Albion after working as superintendent of the Schroon Lake school district in the Adirondacks. That district only has about 200 students. Bonnewell was the district’s superintendent, K-12 principal and also served as the business administrator. Before Schroon Lake, he was principal of Honeoye Middle-High School.

Bonnewell has been highly visible at Albion, attending numerous events after school. He was a chaperone with the high school chorus to New York City last year. He also stepped in as interim high school principal last school year for three months.

Bonnewell, in a letter to the community, said he accept the position as independent evaluator of teachers. He urged the community to not “choose sides” in the situation and asked that everyone stay focused on serving students.

“There will be a natural inclination for people to judge, question, and challenge this,” he said. “Some will even be inclined to choose sides. Please don’t. There is only one side that matters … It is time as the Albion Central School District Community, the ACSD family, that we come together with one focus—that focus needs to be and to do the very best we can do for our students. I will commit my full energy and my complete love to the service of our students as I always have through June 2021 and will do so beyond that if the Board chooses to exercise their option to ask me to continue further.”

“Our students need and deserve nothing less,” Bonnewell continued in his letter. “Not because of COVID, not because of the current social and financial and other troubles in our country and world, not for any reason other than they have always needed and deserved our singular focus—doing all that we can together, for their growth and well-being. They needed that yesterday, they need it today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and forever.”

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