As Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow prepare to meet the man who will likely be the new Superintendent of Schools soon, White Plains is getting set to begin their own replacement search.
White Plains Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet, who has been tapped as TUFSD finalist following a national search, had been hired by the White Plains system in 2009 to replace Superintendent Timothy Connors. Before that, he held two superintendencies in Connecticut schools, making this his fourth.
Clouet has spent more than 27 years in education—as a superintendent, high school principal and Portuguese/English bilingual teacher—and is a lifelong Mets fan. He is the father of three grown children and is a grandfather. His wife Margarida is a nurse practitioner and director of nursing at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT.
In 2010 he described , in a way we in the TUFSD might find very familiar:
It's a diverse school district with an urban flavor. It has an incredible amount of offerings for kids of different backgrounds. We have an extensive offering of Advanced Placement courses; courses that offer college credits; and a range of services for students with special needs, like special education and support for the mastery of English.
Clouet said one of his challenges in White Plains was to increase communication with parents in such a multilingual district. Another was to meet the ever-escalating state mandates.
His goal in 2010:
Re-designing how we deliver instruction to meet new state assessments. The fiscal challenges in combination with that paradigm shift are going to put more pressure on a district that has the kind of diversity we have.
White Plains is anticipating Tarrytown school officials to be visiting White Plains schools in February, while Clouet is scheduled to meet with the Tarrytown school community – parents, teachers and students alike – in a long visit on Feb. 13.
The news comes that we have a finalist and not an official Superintendent because his selection is ultimately contigent on a complete background check which is happening now, said Lillis, and "sort of kicking the tires" in this visit to his school district. "And you have to tell people why you're coming."
Lillis is close to certain all will go as planned and they'll make the formal acceptance announcement at the Feb. 14 board meeting. He said the same process happened for our current Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith, which went without a hitch and lead to a rare 13 year relationship when the typical cycle in New York State superintendencies these days is under four years.
"The opportunity to work in Tarrytown is exciting for me," Clouet told Patch. "Because of its size, I look forward to being able to have more direct contact with students while continuing to work on 21st Century challenges facing all schools."
Lillis said that Clouet went to White Plains "to experience a larger district and found he preferred a smaller one."
The White Plains Board of Education offers kind words to their potentially departing leader.
“The Board of Education appreciates Dr. Clouet’s service to White Plains and wishes him well in his future endeavors," said White Plains school board president Rosemarie Eller. "Our Board is well aware of the excellent reputation of the White Plains educational system and we will work diligently to continue that tradition.”
However, the comments following the news on White Plains Patch speak to some dissatisfaction over his relatively short tenure there and the major overhaul of the middle school system. White Plains Middle School will be redesigned in the fall of 2013 with a sixth grade academy at Eastview campus and seventh and eight graders at the Highlands campus.
Following much public debate, the redesign was approved by the White Plains Board of Education in an effort to ease the transition into middle school for sixth graders, improve test scores and ensure high school readiness.
Writes reader Dan Seidel:
Since the BOE unceremoniously fired Saul Yanofsky, we hired 2 losers who care only about salary and benefit increases and not the district. No loyalty, no sticking it out.
Writes reader Mike McAteer:
What leader, in good conscience, can make such fundamental structural changes that affect so many families in this city, eliminating decades-old middle school choice, ramrodding a sixth grade academy through a stacked committee using cherry-picked research, changing the entire elementary school administration in only three years, while he simultaneously sends out resumes looking for his next opportunity?
Clouet, of course, defines his time in White Plains differently.
"I have been honored to work for the children of White Plains since 2009," said Clouet. "The district has adapted thoughtfully to rapidly changing times thanks to the strong team of teachers and administrators who collaborate well."
Lillis said Clouet met a number of our search criteria, especially including his language skills among others, and expects "he'll be a nice match for our community."
Whether he will move here from his home in White Plains remains to be seen. While Smith moved "right away," said Lillis, many superintendents choose to live outside of their districts.
Lillis notes Clouet's appointment will also save the district some money though he couldn't specify a salary amount "until we accept the contract."
From here, it's onto the replacement of our assistant superintendent as well. Lillis said the job listing should be posted on Feb. 10, beginning another search process he expects Clouet will be able to weigh in on.
Patch editors William Demarest and Dina Sciortino contributed to this story.