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Community interviews candidates for Jeff-Lewis BOCES superintendent position

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WATERTOWN — Board of Cooperative Educational Services staff, administrators and area educators conducted daylong interviews with the final Jefferson-Lewis BOCES superintendent candidates this week.

Sackets Harbor Central School Superintendent Frederick E. Hall Jr., of Adams Center, was interviewed Monday and St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Assistant Superintendent Stephen J. Todd, Hannawa Falls, was interviewed on Tuesday.

The candidates hope to fill the upcoming vacancy created by the retirement of Jeff-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Jack J. Boak.

St. Lawrence County BOCES Superintendent Thomas R. Burns said the candidates went through three rounds of interviews and a community forum at the end of the day with at least a dozen district members.

The candidates met with area superintendents in a closed meeting on March 26.

The evening sessions were a chance for people at all levels of authority in the BOCES system to ask questions and evaluate the candidates. Mr. Burns said because the BOCES programs span such diverse categories, the right candidate needs to be flexible.

“These meetings are an important first step to let everyone meet the new superintendent and also a chance for the new superintendent to come into the job knowing more about what the different needs are around the district,” Mr. Burns said.

He said Mr. Hall took on the daylong interview process with great enthusiasm.

“What should have been a long and tiring day for him looked like he could have gone on for hours,” Mr. Burns said. “After years in education, you could clearly see his tireless reserve of energy.”

Mr. Hall said it was a great and thorough experience.

“It was an opportunity for me to see so many new faces in the program,” Mr. Hall said.

He said he was able to go through and see every program from culinary to cosmetology to welding and more.

Mr. Hall said one of the things educators talked about in detail was how to prepare students for careers and how to prepare them for higher education.

“It was a whirlwind day; very energizing,” Mr. Hall said.

Mr. Todd said he really enjoyed connecting with people he has known for years in the BOCES school districts and meeting new people in different divisions across the BOCES system.

He said he didn’t want to compromise the evaluation process by talking about specific questions, but each group seemed to have similar questions about the direction needed to take BOCES programs into the future.

“Everyone in the BOCES program is here because they have a real passion for education,” Mr. Todd said. “The most important thing is for everyone to work together on programs that can meet the students’ needs in the future.”

The next step before a decision is made is for both candidates to meet with the New York State Education Department Commissioner John B. King at the end of the month. The board will choose the new superintendent following the recommendation from Mr. King.

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