High Turnover in School Superintendents Impacts Districts in Hudson Valley Region

Written By: Robert Cox

Screen Shot 2014 09 02 at 12 20 05 PMNEW ROCHELLE, NY — Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress has released an issue brief on high turnover in school superintendents in the Hudson Valley region. The report is a quick read with important information and good ideas on how to address this growing problem.

The Spin We’re In: High Turnover in School Superintendents Impacts Districts

The brief draws its conclusions on data collected on all 122 districts in the Hudson Valley including New Rochelle, NY. The report points to a troubling rate of turnover among school superintendents, the top leader in public school districts and the individual who sets goals for schools and then charts the course for how to reach those goals.

Among the findings:

  • The vast majority, 75%, of Hudson Valley school superintendents – a total of 91 – have been in their current posts for five years or less.
  • Of all Hudson Valley superintendents, including interims, 21 superintendents have been in their current posts for nine months or less.

The report makes several recommendations in regard to the trend one of which is to increase training for sitting superintendents and school boards”:

As noted by superintendent search consultant Robert Christmann, school boards are required to take only six hours of training in fiscal matters, some training on governance issues is also required. It can be said that more emphasis and training time is needed on the roles and responsibilities of board members, on those of the superintendent and on how boards and superintendents can relate effectively to one and other. Too many times, said Christmann, it is a lack of understanding of the boundaries of those roles that lead to internal political strife and turnover.

According to the report, the brief came about as a result of an examination of shared superintendencies between certain school districts in New York State in early 2014, research staff at Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress took note of what appeared to be a rapidly turning revolving door in the office of the school superintendent in the nine county study area comprised of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.

In the summer of 2014, Pattern staff gathered data on superintendent longevity and turnover through phone calls, internet searches of news and district archives, and through data available in the NYS Education Department School Report Cards. Information on superintendents, including interim and acting, was collected from all 122 public school districts in the nine counties.

The main issue is declining interest in the position of Superintendent:

In sum, the job appears to have lost some of its allure. That loss is a factor now seen in superintendent searches where a shortage of those willing to take on these duties is increasingly evident…In the lower Hudson Valley, applicant numbers have been somewhat boosted by the number of New Jersey candidates seeking jobs in New York. This is due to a freeze on superintendent salaries imposed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2011. It should be noted that a recent attempt to impose a cap on superintendents in New York state was unsuccessful.

This report only serves to confirm the impression among some that Dr. Brian Osborne is short-timer in New Rochelle. He turned down a job last year in Ann Arbor, Michigan because of “personal considerations”. By taking the New Rochelle job on a three-year contract which expired in June, 2017, he can make far more money than in New Jersey without having to uproot his family and wait out Christie whose current term in office ends on January, 2018 and who might even leave sooner if he runs and wins a race for national office.