Kendall school superintendent to retire after 14 years of leading district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 August 2021 at 8:08 am

Julie Christensen will retire Dec. 31; Kendall seeks community input in picking next superintendent

Photos by Tom Rivers: Julie Christensen, the Kendall school district superintendent, speaks during commencement on June 26, 2020, which was held outside at the Kendall Fire Department grounds. Being outside in a drive-in setup was a way for the class to be together for graduation with attendance restrictions limited to 150 people although each vehicle counted as one person each the group stayed at the truck or car.

KENDALL – Julie Christensen, Kendall’s school superintendent for 14 years, has announced her plans to retire on Dec. 31.

She has led the district through $40 million of capital construction projects in the past decade, as well as lofty academic standing. Kendall is routinely recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for its academic performance and the district typically has a 100 percent graduation rate.

Christensen joined Kendall in 2007 after working as assistant superintendent for administration and personnel at Gates Chili Central School.

“It’s been a wonderful community,” Christensen said. “I feel good about what we’ve achieved. We have awesome students and a great staff, and a great community.”

Christensen’s three children all graduated from Kendall. Her oldest son was a freshman when the family moved to Kendall and Christensen said her son was quickly welcomed by his classmates when he was the “new kid.”

That friendly and caring community is part of the Kendall culture of valuing everybody, she said.

“At the end of the day it’s all about kids first,” she said. “This is a very welcoming at district. My kids felt that.”

She said the smaller school environment makes it easier for administrators and teachers to be creative and implement new programs. She cited a new Lego team at the elementary level that programs Legos for tasks and other STEAM programs.

Members of the Kendall Board of Education are pictured with district superintendent Julie Christensen, third from left, on Oct. 14, 2014 behind the existing cafeteria, where a new one will be built. The board members include, from left: Martin Goodenbery, Vice President Chris Gerken, President Nadine Hanlon, Chaley Swift and Charles Patt.

The school leaders celebrated the ground-breaking for a $25 million construction project for an array of improvements at both the elementary school and junior-senior high school building. The project includes new roofs for both school buildings, as well as energy efficient improvements, heating and ventilation work, and updated security measures. Both sites will also see improvements to parking lots and sidewalks.

The junior-senior high school was built in 1971 in an “open classroom” model that didn’t include contained classrooms. The capital project gave all the classrooms four walls and their own door.

Provided photo: This photo from July 2016 shows employees for the Elmer W. Davis of Rochester tearing off the roof of the Kendall Jr./Sr. High School. The building’s front entrance was given a radical new look over that summer.

One of Kendall’s capital project included a dramatic change to the exterior and front entrance of the Kendall Jr./Sr. High School as well as many interior upgrades.

“We’ve totally transformed both buildings, and all the fields,” Chrstensen said about the capital projects. “It will great instructional space for years to come.”

Lisa Levett, president of the Kendall Board of Education, issued this statement on behalf of the board:

“During Julie’s years at KCS, her commitment to the academic success of students led to high graduation rates and test scores, as well as the implementation of one-to-one devices for kindergarten through grade 12 and a ranking among the top seven percent of schools nationally.

“Her leadership advocating for student excellence kept our schools open five days a week during the 2020-21 school year. She led us through two beautiful state-of-the-art capital projects and many extracurricular program accomplishments. We are thankful for her knowledge and dedication to the success and continued development of KCS. Congratulations and best wishes to Julie in the next chapter of her life.”

Former Kendall Board of Education President Nadine Hanlon, left, smiles with Julie Christensen, school district superintendent, after the Board of Education accepted seven different construction bids on Sept. 24, 2014 for upgrades to the elementary and junior-senior high school. Those bids totaled $16.4 million.

Hanlon was the BOE president for seven years until her term expired June 30, 2020.

“Julie did a great job for the district she was very conscientious to provide quality education on the taxpayers’ budget,” Hanlon said. “She led the teachers and staff in providing a quality education.”

She said Christensen supported bringing in more resources for students, including mental health professionals and a school resource officer.

“People want to come to Kendall schools,” Hanlon said. “We have great graduation rates and Regents scores. She has been a great leader of all the staff.”

Kendall is working with Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES 2 District Superintendent Jo Anne Antonacci to pick the next superintendent.

A survey has been mailed to district residents and also is available online to assist the search committee in picking Kendall’s next superintendent. Click here to see the survey.

Some of the questions asked include:

  • What are the three most essential considerations regarding experience and background in hiring the next Kendall Central School District superintendent?
  • What are the three most essential personal/professional characteristics that should be sought?
  • In your opinion, what is the single greatest need for the Kendall Central School District right now?
  • In your opinion, what is the single greatest need for the Kendall Central School District in the next three to five years?
  • What is it about Kendall Central School District that makes you the most proud?

The Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES website will provide updates about the search process, including future forums to meet the finalists. Those forms are tentatively planned for Oct. 21, 27 and 28. The goal is to have the next superintendent begin on Jan. 1, 2022.

Click here to see the section on the BOCES website about the Kendall superintendent search.