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New interim superintendent named in North Collins

NORTH COLLINS — The North Collins School Board chose Joan Thomas as its interim superintendent, during a special meeting held Nov. 29. Thomas’s compensation was set at $400 per day.

The new interim superintendent brings 40-plus years of experience to the table. She retired as superintendent of the Orchard Park School District in 2010 and went on to serve as president and principal of Holy Angels Academy in Buffalo. That school closed earlier this year.

Thomas has served as an elementary, middle and high school principal and originally began as a science instructor.

She also currently serves as an adjunct professor in the school of education and human resources at Canisius College.

This specific meeting followed a regular meeting that was held Nov. 26, as well as two executive session interview dates held with prospective hires, on Nov. 21 and 23. Another executive session during the Nov. 26 meeting found the board’s settling on Thomas, but wanting to confirm her interest, before publicly announcing its decision.

Board Member David Gier asked Board President Shannon Locking for a target date for hiring a permanent superintendent; Locking said that her target is July 1.

During his final meeting as superintendent, Benjamin Halsey told the board that he and Transportation Director James Hourihan had held additional talks with a transportation consultant. Halsey told the board that the consultant would be willing to meet with the body and the incoming interim superintendent, to evaluate the efficiency of the district’s transportation system.

Among the items suggested for review were the number of bus runs, routing efficiency and evaluating current procedures.

Halsey also said that the consultant would like to see the board adopt a formal transportation policy that would give specific benchmarks to evaluate. The district currently has a patchwork of individual policies, along with common practices adopted, during the years.

In other board news:
– Elementary school Principal John Cataldo, who also serves as the district’s information officer, reported that the first of three reports to the state has been completed. He said that enrollment in all grades has risen to 606, from last year’s 594. The number of pupils labeled “economically disadvantaged” has also risen from 225 to 232.

– Junior-Senior High School Principal Annie Metcalf reported that the school earned a spot on the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of American high schools. Garnering a silver medal, the school achieved a rank of 1,806 in the nation and 150th in the state. Metcalf said that the rankings stemmed from a combination of factors, including the number of students in advanced placement courses and the poverty level in a given community.

– The board appointed John Bruno as an additional member of the district safety committee.

– Metcalf also reported that 93 percent of students in her building have remained eligible for all activities in the first quarter; that is a rise from last year’s 92 percent.

– A contract with the village of North Collins, for the salting of school parking lots, was approved.

– The board approved the “Where Eagles Dare” trip to new York City on April 25 and 26, and approved adult chaperones Lisa Brosnick and Bob Turnbull.

The board will next meet at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the high school library.

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