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April 14, 2015

Dr. Cosimo Tangorra Jr. appointed Niskayuna's Superintendent of Schools

experienced educational leader to begin in district on june 2


picture of Dr. Cosimo Tangorra
Dr. Cosimo Tangorra Jr. will begin with the district on June 2.

At its meeting on April 14, the Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint current New York State Deputy Education Commissioner Dr. Cosimo Tangorra Jr. as the district's next superintendent. The appointment followed an extensive search that included substantial community input, interviews with three finalists conducted by stakeholder teams, and a day-long visit to the district by Dr. Tangorra.

He will begin in Niskayuna on June 2. Prior to becoming the state's deputy commissioner for P-12 (preschool through high school) education, Dr. Tangorra was a superintendent in New York for 12 years. He also has experience as a teacher, an academic administrator, and a principal.

"Dr. Tangorra brings an exceptional breadth and depth of experience to our district, and we are thrilled to announce this appointment," Board of Education President Patricia Lanotte said. "Perhaps even more importantly, he impressed the Board and the interview committees as a thoughtful leader who connects with people, focuses on the future, and keeps students at the forefront of decision-making. He's the absolute right choice to build upon the progress we have made this year and our renewed commitment to students and learning.

"Dr. Tangorra also understands that while we are right to be proud of our school district, Niskayuna's reputation is the result of a relentless pursuit of improvement and a belief that we must define excellence for ourselves," Mrs. Lanotte added. "At this moment in education and in our changing world, it is so important that we have a leader who shares this belief - and we found him. Our Board has complete confidence that Dr. Tangorra will engage our community, listen carefully, and lead passionately as we define and pursue what Niskayuna excellence means for the next generation of students."

In early March, community stakeholders teams - 32 parents, residents, and faculty and staff members in all - interviewed three finalists for the superintendent position, and provided valuable feedback to the Board based on their interviews. The Board then invited Dr. Tangorra to Niskayuna in mid-March for a day that included meetings with district leaders, visits to several schools, and conversations with faculty and staff, followed by a final interview with the Board. He emerged from this process as the Board's choice to lead the district as our next Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Tangorra has a doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership form the Sage Colleges, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from SUNY Cortland, a master's degree in Special Education from the College of St. Rose, and a bachelor's degree from Siena College. He first became a superintendent in 2004 with Oppenheim-Ephratah Central Schools in Fulton County, and went on to serve as the superintendent of Trumansburg Central Schools and Ilion Central Schools over the next decade. Dr. Tangorra helped guide the 2013 merger of the Ilion and Mohawk school districts and was superintendent of the newly formed Central Valley Schools until he was named to the State Education Department post.

"Coming to Niskayuna is an honor. It provides me with a unique opportunity to do the work that I love in a special place," Dr. Tangorra said. "I'm looking forward to engaging our community and building on the solid foundation that the district established this year. We have everything we need in Niskayuna to lead the way in a new era in education - not by focusing on today's standards, but by setting our own standard for excellence. This will involve keeping students and learning at the heart of all we do, valuing our teachers and staff, and fostering innovation and strong partnerships.

"But first, I plan to do a lot of active listening and learning," Dr. Tangorra added. "I firmly believe that being an educational leader requires a deep understanding of a community's values and aspirations for its schools. I can't wait to get started."

Dr. Tangorra's salary will be $186,000.

The Board and community put considerable time and effort into the search process, which was facilitated through Capital Region BOCES by a team led by BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Charles Dedrick. The BOCES search service comes at no additional cost to districts.

The search process included four open forums and an online survey that helped inform the Board as to the community's profile for the desired candidate. The Board invited nominations and applications, and met with upwards of two dozen candidates - some of them multiple times - prior to the interviews that stakeholders conducted with candidates.

"Dr. Tangorra's experience as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, in addition to knowledge gained at the New York State Education Department will be an invaluable asset to our district," said Sunny Lee, a district resident and parent who served on the community interview committees. "The experience gained at each of those levels provides a unique perspective for him in dealing with every stakeholder group involved."

"Throughout the interview process and in subsequent conversations, Dr. Tangorra quickly established himself as a leader with students as his number one priority," said Niskayuna High School teacher Mary Eads, who participated on the stakeholder committees and is president of the Niskayuna Teachers Association. "His experience as an educational leader and his thoughtful and inclusive problem-solving approach were some of the attributes that made Dr. Tangorra an outstanding candidate for superintendent. I look forward to working with Dr. Tangorra and moving Niskayuna to even greater heights."