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Katonah-Lewisboro Schools Superintendent Search Gets Under Way

John Chambers and Deborah Raizes at the Katonah-Lewisboro school board's Sept. 15 meeting.
John Chambers and Deborah Raizes at the Katonah-Lewisboro school board's Sept. 15 meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- Representatives from the firm hired to find a new Katonah-Lewisboro schools superintendent gave an overview of the search, which will involve a mix of confidentiality for candidates and public events.

The representatives, John Chambers and Deborah Raizes, are from Hazard, Young, Attea Associates. Chambers, whose resume includes having served as superintendent for the Bronxville and Byram Hills school districts, also brought up his 10 years of serving as a John Jay High school principal. Raizes’ resume includes having served as as a Scarsdale school board member, including time as president.

Raizes and Chambers, who gave a presentation at the school board’s Sept. 15 meeting, outlined the superintendent-search process.

Public participation will include a series of focus groups, which will be held on Sept. 29, Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and Oct. 7. The first focus group is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the high school library, while the second is set for 10 a.m. at the high school auditorium. Additionally, an online survey has been posted and will run until Oct. 3.

Chambers described the focus groups as for “really for anyone who is willing to talk with us.” The early phase of the search will include outreach to district employees and parents, it was noted.

Raizes, who called the focus groups “extremely, extremely important,” recalled examples of names being given through a group or survey, with those individuals referred later being picked as the new superintendents.

Chambers detailed the product of that public outreach, which will be a profile that will be used for the search. Information sought from the public includes assessments of the district’s strengths, challenges that it faces and desired characteristics for a new superintendent. A profile will then be presented at an Oct. 23 public meeting, he added.

Outreach to candidates has already started and applications have been submitted, according to Chambers. He also mentioned various sources that will be used for advertising, which will be both in print and digital formats.

Later on, the board will interview candidates, which Chambers explained typically numbers between five and six. The group would then be narrowed, he explained, with two to three finalists remaining and another interview round with the board. The hope is to have a selection made in January or early February, according to Chambers, who cited having time for making a transition. The new superintendent’s recommended date to start would be around July 1, according to Chambers.

Chambers and Raizes also stressed having the search be confidential, arguing that it is necessary for attracting the best candidates.

“We need to be able to assure candidates that this will be a confidential search,” said Chambers.

Raizes, after board member Stephanie Tobin alluded to what would happen if a finalist’s current district found out, warned about the consequences, saying that “they become lame ducks in their district.”

A copy of the online survey is available here and a copy of the presentation given at the board meeting is here .

The district's last regular superintendent was Paul Kreutzer, who abruptly left in January, Daily Voice reported at the time. Assistant Superintendent for Business Michael Jumper served in the role on an interim basis through June. Since July, John Goetz, who was previously an interim principal at John Jay High School, has served as interim superintendent.

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