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JPS Moves Forward With Hunt For New Super

Following Dr. Bret Apthorpe’s announcement that he intends to retire as the Jamestown Public Schools superintendent at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year, the Board of Education took the initial steps to find his replacement.

At a special meeting Tuesday, JPS board members appointed New York State Leadership Group, a non-profit educational organization within the SUNY Buffalo State College Foundation, to conduct the employment search for Apthorpe’s successor.

“We’re trying to move forward after getting the news that he was going to retire,” Paul Abbott, school board president, told The Post-Journal.

New York State Leadership Group is led by Executive Director Robert Christmann, completing more than 50 school district leader employment searches.

Abbott said the decision to go with the New York State Leadership Group follows preliminary conversations and proposals with other consultants.

The New York State Leadership Group and Christmann previously conducted the employment search that resulted in the hiring of Apthorpe in 2017.

Abbott noted that while selecting Apthorpe was a unanimous decision among board members, the district was pleased with the three finalists that were presented during the last superintendent search.

“We had a good process and we really loved our finalists,” Abbott said.

Christmann is set to meet with the board at the Feb. 25 regular meeting. Abbott said the board will have a better understanding of the procedure and the timeline of selecting a new superintendent at that time.

Abbott said an official notice will be posted about the impending opening in the future and the board will begin reviewing candidates along with the consultant. He noted that six of the seven current school board members were on the board when Apthorpe was hired and are more familiar with the process now.

Additionally, Abbott said the community will be involved with vetting potential candidates through a community survey. He also encouraged interested individuals to attend board meetings to share their comments and express their concerns.

“That would always be welcome,” he said.

Abbott and Apthorpe have said that the exiting superintendent will help with the process to ensure a “smooth transition.”

“I want him to focus on the job of being superintendent, but he’s offered himself in any way that he can to assist us,” Abbott said.

Abbott said the ideal goal would be to have a new superintendent appointed “sometime in May,” but he noted that there isn’t a set deadline. Additionally, Abbott said that Apthorpe would be willing to remain on past June 30 “if need be,” providing more time for the search process. However, Abbott said that scenario is not likely.

“I don’t want to bound the board to an exact timeline in exchange for the integrity of the process,” Abbot said. “That’s the most important thing. Timeline is important, but the right process is most important. We really got to get it right.”

Apthorpe began in the district at the start of the 2017-18 school year, succeeding former Superintendent Tim Mains. Apthorpe had his superintendent contract extended through 2023 during the 2018-19 school year.

Prior to becoming JPS Superintendent, Apthorpe was the superintendent of schools for the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg from 2014 to 2017.

Apthorpe, a Mayville native, cited the consideration of “his own family” as the primary reason for stepping away and retiring.

“I have spent long hours throughout my career away my family in pursuit of that goal,” Apthorpe said in a statement. “Despite my love for my work and for the Jamestown community, it has come time to put my family first.”

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