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Massena interim superintendent accepts position with Syracuse Diocese

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MASSENA — The Massena Central School District will lose its interim superintendent in March, as William W. Crist has been named the new superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Syracuse.

Bishop Robert J. Cunningham made the announcement Wednesday, and Mr. Crist will begin work March 10.

That will not affect the search for a new full-time superintendent in Massena, according to Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, who is assisting the district.

“We already had this factored into the timeline,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Crist had retired from the Oswego City School District before taking over at Massena Central this year.

As a first-year retiree, he was required to seek a waiver from the state Education Department to enter into a contract with Massena.

“Honestly, even when I submitted my information to the diocese, I made it very clear to them my start date would have to happen after March 1 because of my commitment here, and I had a conversation with them,” he said.

The first step in the superintendent search for Massena will be Tuesday, when brochures and advertisements are expected to be distributed, Mr. Burns said. “We will make that deadline. We’re kind of finalizing those things,” he said.

Under the current timeline, the district would have a public announcement of the new superintendent by Jan. 16, with that person on the job by March 3.

Board President John R. Boyce had said at the board’s September meeting that the position will be advertised for up to $150,000 a year depending on experience.

Mr. Crist had been hired as interim superintendent after an initial search by the board of education to replace Roger B. Clough II netted four candidates. Board members planned to begin a new search during the 2013-14 school year, and that process started during their last meeting.

“It is bittersweet because I really enjoy my experience up here. People have been fantastic. I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support at this point,” Mr. Crist said.

His new position will take him to a diocese that has 22 schools in a seven-county area.

“It seems like it’s going to be a very nice assignment. I’m very humbled by what this means and the responsibilities that come along with it. It’s a fairly significant geographic area alone, with seven counties from Oswego County down to Broome County and Binghamton to Norwich and up to Utica. From that point, it at some point becomes overwhelming. At the same time it’s a great challenge,” Mr. Crist said.

Before he leaves, he wants to continue focusing on Race to the Top initiatives.

“I think there are many things with the Race to the Top initiative, things like APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) and how we’ve been dealt that card and how we address that locally. At the same time we’re moving into Common Core implementation and that’s presenting challenges as well. I want to bring a sense of normalcy to how those pieces are implemented, and how we structure that implementation process is important,” Mr. Crist said.

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