On the heels of the mid-June announcement of Superintendent Thomas J. Douglas’s departure, current Assistant Superintendent Jody Monroe will now step in as interim superintendent.
Her position will be a one-year term, while the School Board conducts a large nation-wide search for a new superintendent. Monroe was sworn in as interim superintendent during the Wednesday, Aug. 5, School Board Meeting. Her position will begin effective Monday, Aug. 24.
Monroe has been assistant superintendent since 2008, serving under two superintendents, including Douglas, and Michael Tebanno during his four years in the position. She served as Bethlehem Middle School principal for three years prior to that. Her promotion at the time was made after the leave of Les Loomis, after his 22 years of service as superintendent.
When Douglas became superintendent in 2011, the position had a salary of $170,000 according to his contract, and a $175,346.80 salary by 2013, according to the most recent data from the New York State Teacher’s Retirement System.
School board trustees expect finding a permanent replacement will be a long and exhaustive process. Board President Matt Downey says the search process will mirror the one undertaken for Douglas’ position three years ago, where a committee of teachers, support staff, and community members reviewed candidates.
“Ultimately it is board’s decision,” said Downey, “but we will be asking for community input to find out what they feel are necessary qualifications.”
The school district will seek this community input through a dedicated website.
The search will be conducted with the help of Chuck Dedrick, district superintendent of Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Dedrick has gone through this process numerous times with the districts he represents. Downey called Dedrick an “instrumental figure” during the last superintendent search.
“We didn’t want to be rushed to do it in three-months, six-months. It’s going to take some time,” said Downey.
In a statement from the school, Monroe was described as a “proven leader.” He and the board feel she will “bring continuity and stability to the superintendent role during this transition”
The school has now posted advertisements to fill the assistant superintendent position in the interim year that Monroe will act as superintendent. According to Monroe, the school board hopes to expedite the search process for this position so a new assistant superintendent will be hired before the start of school, Tuesday, Sept. 8.
After being sworn in by Board President Downey, Monroe thanked her family, who were present, as well as the staff at Bethlehem, and the board for their support.
“It’s really an honor to be selected for the position. It’s a great district. We have a great staff the board is really great to work with so I’m very happy to step into this leadership role,” said Monroe.
Her role as assistant superintendent dealt mainly with curriculum instruction planning. With the added responsibility of being superintendent, she will be working with other departments, such as transportation and maintenance.
“After working with curriculum instruction for seven years (as assistant superintendent) I’ll obviously have to give some of that up, and I’ll be working with staff that might not have spent as much time with, like support staff, so I’ll need to learn a little bit more with some of those needs,” she said.
Among other changes, such as fielding concerns from the community, she’ll also have the power to call snow days. It is a power that she, alongside students, knows to be huge.
“You don’t want to make the wrong call there,” she said with a laugh.
“Even with the many changes facing education, I am confident that our exceptional faculty and staff are poised to continue the outstanding program we have for this community and I will work to maintain Bethlehem’s reputation of excellence,” said Monroe in a statement from the school district.
Prior to coming to Bethlehem 11 years ago as middle school principal, Monroe was principal at Stillwater Middle/High School. She had positions as assistant principal and director of technology in the same district, prior to that.
“Jody has been a wonderful right hand,” said Douglas of his replacement. “I want to commend the board and Jody on her new position.” Douglas himself will be moving to the Horseheads Central School District in order to be closer to his family.
It is unknown if Monroe will seek the position beyond her interim role.