Superintendent Search (First Search)

March 26, 2021 Update

The Schenectady City School District Board of Education regrets to announce that it was not successful in reaching a mutual contract agreement with the candidate for superintendent.  

Board of Education President John Foley said that the board will meet on Wednesday, March 31 to discuss next steps.  


The board of education has enlisted Anita Murphy, District Superintendent of Capital Region BOCES, to conduct the search for our next superintendent of schools.

The board of education’s goal is to have the next superintendent in place by November 2020. BOCES will begin advertising the position in July.  


Over the course of two weeks in June, the Schenectady City School District held seven focus groups with various stakeholder groups including students, faculty, support staff, administrators, parents and community leaders. Participants were asked to consider the following questions as they relate to the district and future leadership qualities desired in the next superintendent of schools. 

  • What are the strengths of the Schenectady City School District 
  • What needs to be improved? 
  • What qualities do you want in a new superintendent? 
  • What should the new superintendent work on first? 
  • Should the new superintendent live in Schenectady? 
  • Additional comments 

    In addition to the focus groups, 299 stakeholders completed a survey responding to the same questions. The survey was open from May 15 to June 15, 2020.  

    The feedback from these focus groups and the survey informed the qualifications for the call for candidates for the next superintendent of the Schenectady City School District. 

    Focus Group & Online Survey Summary 

    What are the strengths of the Schenectady City School District? 

    Participants across all focus groups cited the following strengths of the district: 
  • Diversity of program offerings for students; trying to meet the needs of all students  
  • Counseling helps kids find purpose 
  • Wonderful, creative and hard-working staff  
  • Current focus on equity is an improvement and needs to continue 
  • Diversity of the school district and the many different cultural backgrounds are a real benefit to educating the whole child 
  • Students have a voice and they are heard, community focused 

What needs to be improved? 

Participants across all focus groups cited the following as needing to be improved: 

  • Communication between parents and school buildings 
  • Parent engagement 
  • Student attendance and truancy  
  • Deployment of equity, trauma-sensitive classrooms and other initiatives needs refining and follow-through 
  • Leadership 
  • Morale and trust 
  • Diversity of staff to reflect student population 
  • Bullying and silencing of any opposition, staff concerns being made public 
  • Social emotional learning  
  • Actionable commitment to equity and anti-Black racism 
  • Graduation rate 
  • More transparency from the board of education 

What qualities do you want in a new superintendent? 

Participants across all focus groups cited the following qualities as critical to the superintendent’s success: 

  • A lifelong learner who loves education 
  • A leader who can communicate sensitivity and empathy to all 
  • Flexibility 
  • Urban school district experience and the ability to recognize the needs of an urban-low income community, understands poverty 
  • A good listener willing to hear and collaborate with everyone and be respectful to all members of the school community 
  • A leader with high moral integrity 
  • A commitment to instructional initiatives  
  • Committed to building a culture of honesty and transparency 
  • Visible in the community, participating and attending events outside of school 

What will the superintendent need to work on first? 

Participants across all focus groups agree the superintendent will need to make the following a priority: 

  • Make connections within the district and with stakeholders 
  • Learn from differing viewpoints right away and work with the community and taxpayers for one common goal 
  • Connect with our community, be visible to everyone 
  • Improving and ensuring school safety 
  • Parent engagement 
  • Building trust, improving morale and listening to staff 

Should the new superintendent live in Schenectady? 

Participants across all focus groups cited the following considerations with regard to residency: 

  • Living in the city is a badge of honor and symbol of caring 
  • It creates a sense of a shared future 
  • The perception is that if you aren’t committed to living in the district then you probably aren’t committed to the community 
  • Living in the city could be a recommendation but not a requirement   
  • The superintendent should be a taxpayer in this community 
  • Must be visible in the community 

Additional comments from focus group participants 

The following themes emerged from the open ended comments across focus groups:  

  • Transparency in the hiring process 
  • There is a lot of talk without action in the district 
  • If there is no experience working in a high-poverty, urban district, it will difficult to succeed 
  • It must be a leader who can build trust and lead with transparency 
  • The superintendent must understand that leadership is about service 
  • Emotional intelligence is paramount 
  • The superintendent must advocate for students, the community and staff, ready to work on every challenge rather than take a “savior” mentality 
  • We need more people of color as teachers and in decision-making positions 
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