OLEAN — Dr. Colleen Taggerty will postpone her retirement and stay on as Olean City School District superintendent for an extra month.
The Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday night pushed Taggerty’s final day from June 30 to July 31 in hopes of avoiding naming an interim and ensuring a smoother transition to her successor. Taggerty, who stated at a Dec. 7 board meeting that she was willing to extend her contract, said continuity is important for the district.
“The extension of 30 days for my contract really is inconsequential to myself in terms of my retirement, but it really means a lot to the district in terms of continuity,” she said.
Board President Michiko McElfresh said despite delaying Taggerty’s retirement, the board is “on schedule” in its search for her replacement and still expects to have that person named some time in April. She said the board’s original goal of a July 1 start date may not have allowed the new superintendent to give his or her current district at least 60 days notice, which consultant firm Castallo & Silky LLC has advised the board is common practice.
“We’re still sticking with the same timeline,” McElfresh said. “It’s just when we chose the person, it’s that last 60 days that we need. You have to have 60 days to give them. So we’re not changing the timeline. It’s the same dates we have for interviews and second interviews.”
Both McElfresh and Taggerty said it makes little sense for the district to name an interim superintendent for only a month, particularly at such a critical time in the year.
Taggerty said July entails both closing down the district from the previous school year and preparing for the upcoming school year. It’s also the time superintendents make orders for supplies, hire staff, finalize contracts for transportation and oversee the summer school program.
“I’m used to that,” Taggerty said. “It will make the transition much smoother for the new person coming in who wouldn’t then know exactly what they need to do to open school in September.”
Taggerty said it’s possible the extra month will allow her more time with the incoming superintendent and aid in the transition.
“If the person is hired and able to transition with me for a couple of days, absolutely that would be a very positive thing for the new superintendent, but also for the district,” she said.
Taggerty called her retirement from the district, which was publicly announced in August, “bittersweet.”
“This has been a remarkable career and a great place to work and to live and to be a part of the Olean City School District,” she said. “So leaving is very hard. Saying goodbye is extremely hard. I have no second guesses or qualms about staying longer.”
McElfresh admitted Taggerty staying for an extra month makes the process of finding her successor “a lot less stressful,” but the board still has work to do to have a new superintendent in place this summer.
The board expects to release its brochure to prospective candidates next week and will hold another special meeting on the search with Castallo & Silky at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31. It also recently posted a survey for parents, teachers, students and the community about what they want in the next superintendent. That survey is available on the district’s website.
“We’re on schedule and we’re moving forward,” McElfresh said.
(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at tdinki@olean
timesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)