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Fonda-Fultonville Central School District suspends superintendent search

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MASSENA — The search for a new superintendent in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District has been suspended until the district can get its financial affairs in order, according to the district’s interim superintendent.

It could be several months before the search resumes, Patrick Michel said Thursday.

Massena Central School Superintendent Roger B. Clough was one of three finalists for that position, and the new superintendent was expected to be named earlier this week with a reporting date of Jan. 1. Since the interviews by the Board of Education, one candidate has dropped out, Mr. Michel said.

But now, he said, the search has been put on hold as the district faces a $1.4 million deficit and no money in its fund balance.

“We suspended the search. The search won’t be restarted until I can get this district’s fiscal house in order. We’ll pick up on things probably not until June at this point,” Mr. Michel said. “We’re going to have to do a lot of work with the community to get our house in order. With the fiscal issues we’re facing, we’re going to have to bring in some help.”

While Mr. Clough was one of three finalists, that list that has been whittled down to two after Berneice Brownell removed her name from consideration.

Ms. Brownell had served as superintendent for school districts in New Jersey and New York, most recently in the Eldred Central School District. According to published reports, her five-year contract that began in July 2007 was terminated by the district on Aug. 9, 2010.

She also had served as head of the Department of Education at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2007, as well as chief school administrator, assistant principal and special education coordinator for schools in New York and New Jersey.

Another candidate for the Fonda-Fultonville superintendent’s position, David Halloran, has been the high school principal for the district since 2007. He previously served as assistant principal at Johnstown High School for two years and taught social studies at Tamarac and Ballston Spa high schools.

Mr. Clough has been with the Massena Central School District since 1995 and an administrator since 2002. He was a teacher before stints as principal at Nightengale Elementary and J.W. Leary Junior High schools. He took over for former Superintendent Douglas W. Huntley on an interim basis in August 2008 after Mr. Huntley accepted a position with the Queensbury Union Free School District. Mr. Clough was named permanent superintendent in June 2009.

He notified the Board of Education in June that he did not wish to renew his contract, which expires next June 30. He intended to tender his resignation on or about June 1.

Mr. Michel, who also is the superintendent for the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Education Services and has been serving as interim superintendent in Fonda-Fultonville since the beginning of this school year, said both of the remaining candidates are “still in the running” for the position.

“If either candidate finds another job, we understand completely,” he said.

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