The application for a new superintendent for Valley Stream School District 24 opened early in January, and will close on March 1. As of Jan. 31, about 20 candidates had applied for the position through District Wise Search Consultants’ website.
District 24’s Board of Education hired the consulting firm in early January after the board announced that it would not renew Superintendent Dr. Ed Fale’s contract. The firm, which consists of Bob Freier and Joann Kaplan, will recruit people to apply for the position, do background checks and meet with the candidates before narrowing the field down to finalists for the board’s consideration in the spring. If no candidate is found within that time frame, the firm will encourage the board to hire an interim superintendent until a permanent one is named.
Freier and Kaplan have helped school districts on Long Island find superintendents for almost eight years. During that time, Freier said, all of the superintendents they have placed have worked with their respective boards of education to improve the districts, and any expiring superintendent contracts were renewed. “It’s not about filling the position; it’s about finding the right personality, finding the right fit,” Kaplan said at a meeting with district parents on Jan. 31. “There’s no settling.”
The meeting was held at the Robert W. Carbonaro School, to help Freier and Kaplan better understand the district and choose a candidate. They listened to 10 parents who offered recommendations for a new superintendent. Those were compiled into a list that Freier and Kaplan gave to Board of Education members.
The recommendations included fluency in a second language, because of the high number of students in English as a Second Language programs at the schools; an understanding of diversity; and special education training. “People move here to District 24 for [Committee on Special Education] programs, and a superintendent will affect that,” said Simona Simone, Carbonaro’s Parent Teacher Association president.
The new superintendent should be committed to reducing class size, parents said. Currently, one mother said, kindergarten through third-grade classes have 24 students or fewer, and third- through sixth-graders are in classes with 25 to 30 students. “It’s just too many kids with one teacher,” she said.
Parents also shared what they liked about Fale, and how they hope a new superintendent would emulate him. He came to every school event, knew many parents and worked with Mayor Ed Fare. “My kids know who Dr. Fale is,” Simone said. “He’s attended every single event we’ve had at all three schools.”
Simone also expressed her disappointment that parents would not meet with a prospective superintendent until his or her contract is signed. In response, Freier said that he would tell the board about her concern, but added that many school districts no longer include meetings with parents as part of the screening process because some candidates would withdraw their names. Simone said she would bring the matter to the school board as well. “If you’re going to pull yourself out for that, then we don’t want you,” she said.
The meeting lasted about an hour, with all of the parents sharing their perspectives. When Freier asked at the end whether the participants had any other suggestions, Meg Loss, the mother of a student at the Brooklyn Avenue School, was the first to respond. “We just want a good superintendent,” she said.
Loss also said that she thought the meeting was helpful. “I think we all asked very important questions,” she told the Herald.
Simone echoed that sentiment. “They’re good ideas,” she said. “I just hope the board follows them.”
District parents who were not at the meeting can send their recommendations for a new superintendent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 10.