Big response so far for Albion superintendent survey

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 July 2020 at 10:10 am

Consultant says pool of superintendent candidates has been shrinking the past 20 years

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dr. Teresa Lawrence and her husband Dr. Thomas Ramming are both serving as consultants for the Albion school district in a superintendent’s search. They are shown leading a community forum on Tuesday in the Albion Middle School gym.

ALBION – The consultants assisting the Albion Board of Education in the search for a new district superintendent said they are impressed with the community engagement in the process.

So far 408 people have filled out a survey about the district and what they want in the next superintendent. Dr. Teresa Lawrence and Dr. Thomas Ramming, the consultants in the search, said that is the biggest response they have seen in the past five superintendent searches they’ve led, which were at districts larger and smaller than Albion.

Participants in 10 forums the past two days have been asked to list opportunities and challenges in the district, and traits they want in the next superintendent.

“That is outstanding,” said Ramming, a Gasport native and Roy-Hart graduate. “This is a very interested community in what goes on in the schools.”

Ramming and Lawrence are married. They led 10 focus groups and a community forum this week, asking students, parents, teachers and other community members to identify opportunities and challenges in the district, and the most desired characteristics they want in the district’s top administrator.

Albion wants to have the new superintendent in place by Jan. 1. Scott Bischoping is serving as Albion’s interim superintendent. Bischoping most recently served as interim superintendent at North Rose-Wolcott Central School. Previously, Bischoping was an interim superintendent at Batavia City School District. He also was the district superintendent for Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

Ramming and Lawrence both worked as school superintendents. Ramming said the pool of candidates has been steadily shrinking the past 20 years.

“If you are a family person, the 24-7 demands can negatively impact your family life,” he said.

Ramming said superintendents are often married and their spouse has a job, and they may have kids in school.

“That makes it harder to get up and go,” he said.

Superintendents also don’t have tenure in most districts. They can be vulnerable in the job if the Board of Education doesn’t like the job performance or wants a different leader.

Ramming said superintendents can’t be successful on their own. They need to work as a team with the Board of Education and need the support of the community.

“Good leadership is essential,” Ramming said. “Criticism comes with the job but it is important to let them know when they’re doing a good job, too.”

The district’s on-line survey will close on July 24. The survey lists about 30 qualities and skills for a superintendent. Respondents are asked to rank their five most critical skills for a superintendent to be effective at Albion. Click here to see the survey.

There were about 10 people in this community forum in the middle school gym. Other focus groups included teachers, staff, students, community leaders, alumni and Board of Education members.

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