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Bemus Point Superintendent Search Moves Forward

Amid school closures due to COVID-19, the Bemus Point Central School District Board of Education continues to move forward with its superintendent search.

The board has since appointed an interim superintendent to take over when current Superintendent Michael Mansfield takes his new position as the Dunkirk City Schools District superintendent. Mansfield was appointed to the Dunkirk position on Feb. 11.

Barry Swanson, school board president, said a mid-winter recess break for schools made it more difficult to schedule meetings to begin the search process after Mansfield took the job in Dunkirk. Swanson said the school is about three weeks behind the process because of ongoing circumstances. The board president described the delays as “challenging.”

“We are going to be looking for the best fit for our district, but we also want our district to be the best fit for that superintendent so that everybody can feel successful,” Swanson said.

On March 11, the board approved the search consultant Western New York Educational Services Council to find the next Bemus Point superintendent. On March 16, the board appointed Michelle Spasiano, a former Franklinville Central School District superintendent, as the interim superintendent.

Spasiano will begin as interim superintendent April 6 while Mansfield’s last day is April 17. The former plan was to have Spasiano meet students and staff members alongside Mansfield in her first few weeks. Now, students will likely not be back to school when she officially begins. However, Swanson said she will be the leader of the school district regardless.

“She will be the voice of our district and she will be making the decisions for our district,” Swanson said after Mansfield’s departure on April 17.

Spasiano was selected through a search process assisted by Dr. David O’Rourke, Erie 2-BOCES district superintendent, through services that BOCES makes available to all school districts in the region.

Swanson said the interim superintendent’s contract is effective until August. However, Swanson said he has had conversations with Spasiano about potentially extending her contract or reducing the length of contract depending on how long the employment search lasts.

“The board of education is very fortunate and is looking forward to have (Michelle) Spasiano lead our district,” Swanson said on behalf of the board.

“She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership qualities to the district. We we’re very impressed with her when we interviewed her and we are very much looking forward to working with her.”

Spasiano currently works for the University of Rochester as a leadership coach with school administrators and superintendents.

Regarding the next permanent superintendent search, Swanson said a questionnaire will be sent out to the district community to provide input regarding the superintendent search in the future.

“We’re going to be getting that out via our website,” Swanson said, adding that those without access to Internet will be provided alternatives to participate in the survey.

The survey will include questions regarding characteristics and qualities that district residents want to see in a superintendent. The community feedback will then be provided to the search consultant. Additionally, the search consultant team will be meeting with stakeholder groups within the community conducting similar survey work regarding the next superintendent. However, Swanson said if restrictions on gatherings continue, the district and the consultant will need be creative in how those groups are convened.

“We’re going to figure out in this day and age that we’re living how that can work with those focus groups,” Swanson said, adding that online video conference technology may be utilized to conduct those meetings.

Swanson said the board had hoped a new superintendent would have been appointed by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. However, given the impacts of the virus, he wasn’t sure as of this point.

“This pandemic that we’re experiencing really is changing the dynamics for everything we were hoping and planned, but we still have business to conduct,” Swanson said. “We still need a superintendent and we fully anticipate being able to work closely with (Spasiano) should we have the opportunity to bring our students back during this academic year.”

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