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Superintendent Gersen to leave post

May 01, 1997

BY JULIE E. GREENE

and KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writers

It could take up to a year to replace Washington County Schools Superintendent Wayne F. Gersen, who is leaving to take a similar post in New York state, Board of Education officials said Wednesday.

The school board by law has until April 1, 1998, to appoint a new superintendent, and it could take that long to conduct a nationwide search, said B. Marie Byers, Washington County Board of Education president.

"I expect that we're going to do this very carefully," Byers said in a telephone interview from Anaheim, Calif., where she is attending a National School Board Association conference. "We're not going to rush."

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Gersen was named to the local post on April 1, 1987, nine months after the July 1, 1986, resignation of his predecessor, Claud E. Kitchens.

The school board will survey the community to determine what abilities the public wants the county's next superintendent to possess before advertising the post in educational journals and national newspapers, Byers said.

School board members will meet in closed session on Saturday at the Career Studies Center, following a coffee and conversation session with the public, to discuss appointing an acting superintendent, she said.

The board could have an acting superintendent in place within two weeks, Byers said.

Gersen is scheduled to assume his duties as superintendent of schools for Wappingers Central School District in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., on July 1, but probably will leave the county school system before June 30, Byers said.

"Nothing is automatic" in appointing an acting superintendent, Byers said.

The board's assistant superintendent for instruction, William G. Ford, is retiring on July 1, and the assistant superintendent for administration, Andrew McMahon, has only been in that post since January, she said.

Byers said she wants the new superintendent to have good communications skills and be knowledgeable about school law and county policy.

Board members and others shared their views about the qualities they believe a new superintendent should possess.

  • Board member Doris J. Nipps said she thinks it's important for Gersen's replacement be strong in curriculum and instruction.
  • School board member Andrew R. Humphreys said the new superintendent should involve field staff in the development of policies and procedures.


The candidate should have strong leadership and team management skills, innovative curriculum development experience and a commitment to community, business and school outreach, Humphreys said.

  • Bill Greenwald, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, said Gersen's replacement should have at least 10 years of classroom teaching experience.


Such experience is needed to develop the empathetic connection with the classroom teacher a superintendent should have, Greenwald said.

The successful candidate also should have a proven track record of working with political bodies, be used to working with an elected board and realize the value of open communication between teachers and administration, he said.

  • Teri Williamson, president of the Washington County Council of PTAs, said the next superintendent should be supportive of parent involvement in the school system at all levels and of the PTA.
  • Mike Callas, president of Callas Contractors Inc., said the right person would support the concept of educating students to prepare them for careers.
  • Gary Wright, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the board must be careful in the search and should know exactly what the community wants so it gets a person who meets those requirements.


This community is demanding and very budget conscious, Wright said.

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