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Parents: Salary, Diversity Key In Tarrytown Superintendent Search

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Parents say salary, diversity and experience are what matters when it comes to hiring a new superintendent for the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, especially because Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are different than other nearby districts.

“The tax cap is a theoretical threshold in neighboring districts; it's an actual threshold in Tarrytown,” Sleepy Hollow parent Ken Torosian said.

A small group of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow parents participated in a public forum Wednesday evening with a consultant from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the firm hired to recruit a superintendent to replace Howard Smith, who is retiring at the end of the year.

School officials hope to name a replacement in February to take office in July.

Search consultants have been meeting with numerous school and community organizations to see what they want in a new superintendent. Wednesday's forum was one of two held to survey parents.

Search consultant Debbie Raizes said her team had met with about 90 people so far. A report on the desired characteristics of a new superintendent will be presented to the Board of Education on Nov. 15, Raizes said.

Parents can also give input on the search in an online superintendent survey. Surveys are available in both English and Spanish until Oct. 22.

The new superintendent's salary was a particular concern at the public forum. Parents agreed that the salary needed to be competitive, but felt there was room to put more money back in the budget.

Budgets and staffing have been critical issues for the district in the past few years because of the tight economy, unlike other area schools, Sleepy Hollow parent Tim Church said.

Tarrytown parent Michele Gonzalez agreed.

“We can't be paying 2007 salaries when we're in 2012-13,” she said.

Parents also wanted a superintendent who had experience working in a diverse environment and promoting inclusiveness since the district has a large number of Hispanic families and non-native English speakers.

“Instead of a learning curve, they can come in and hit the ground running,” Gonzalez said.

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