By Dan Hust
CALLICOON May 18, 2004 The search is over for a new Sullivan West school superintendent.
BOCES Supt. Martin Handler, who led the search for a replacement for SW Supt. Michael Johndrow, announced yesterday that New Paltz Central School District Supt. Alan Derry will helm Sullivan West come July 1.
Derry is expected to be officially named the superintendent in a special board meeting tonight at Sullivan Wests district headquarters at the Delaware Valley campus in Callicoon.
The board was seeking a superintendent with deep, successful experience, and thats exactly who they ended up with, explained Handler. He has a very, very good reputation among the superintendents in the area.
Derrys salary is reportedly $149,000, about $40,000 more than Johndrow which will make Derry the best-paid superintendent in Sullivan County, said Handler.
The market for experienced, successful superintendents is certainly such that significant salaries are being paid to those with such backgrounds, Handler explained. This job has become increasingly difficult and complicated.
This board felt they had to have the experience to move the district forward, he continued.
Handler was also pleased with the boards harmonious resolve in the superintendent search.
Derry, 57, holds masters degrees from New York City universities in counseling psychology, guidance and counseling, and educational administration, in addition to a bachelors degree in health and physical education.
He has seen other superintendent and administrative service in western New York, Japan, Italy and Greece, and that evidently played a large role in the boards decision to choose him over two other finalists.
He had all the credentials we were looking for, said SW Board President Bill Erdman, who confirmed that an agreement was reached via a private meeting of the board with its attorney Friday.
Derry said yesterday that he is looking forward to joining Sullivan Wests educational team.
Im quite excited, he remarked. I felt throughout the [interviewing] process that this would be a very good fit.
Although hes leaving a 2,300-student district for a 1,700-student one, Derry said he prefers smaller districts.
You get to know the people better, he explained.
And evidently it was the residents of the district who sold him on the idea of becoming superintendent.
The people themselves were unusually friendly, he said, referencing a daylong session of getting to know staff, students and citizens of Sullivan West last month.
He also cited a generic intuition that residents unanimously want to move forward in the district, which he found quite attractive.
Although he acknowledged hell be leaving a school where many good memories were made, Derry will be bringing along his wife, Corinne, and the family pets to western Sullivan County. (The couple have two stepdaughters and three grandchildren.)
Derry also plans to stick around, saying he hopes SW will be the district he retires from when that day comes.
As for outgoing Supt. Johndrow, who oversaw Sullivan West virtually from its inception but faced a board unwilling to renew his contract, Board President Erdman conveyed no hard feelings.
I wish him luck in his retirement, he said.