The Cato-Meridian Central School District has narrowed its pool of potential superintendents to two.
Superintendent Noel Patterson's retirement, effective Jan. 2, was approved at a board meeting Monday, and school board president Michael Lees said the board is planning to select a superintendent by early December.
Selected candidates for the superintendent spot met with the board in interviews Oct. 3 and 4. The top three candidates then met with three separate committees made up of district administrators, parents and other community members and teachers, staff and other district employees, respectively, on Oct. 10. The board ultimately chooses the superintendent.
William Speck, former superintendent of Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, was chosen as the hiring consultant for the search through BOCES at a cost of $8,500. Speck is operating under interim BOCES supervisor Chris Todd. Lees said Speck vetted the qualifications of all applicants who applied. Speck either knew many of the candidates himself "or knew someone who knew them," Lees said.
Patterson said one of the hopefuls, Barbara Case, has since accepted a position at another district. The final two, Dr. Terry Ward and Shawn Bisetta, are meeting with the board this week.
Bisetta has been the superintendent for Oxford Academy and Central School District since January 2015 and served as superintendent for the Mount Markham Central School District before that. He is no stranger to Cayuga County, having served as a principal in the Port Byron Central School District from 2002 to 2013. Before that, he was the assistant middle school principal in Phoenix, N.Y. and had been an alternative education teacher for Cayuga Onondaga BOCES.
Bisetta has a certificate of advanced studies from SUNY Cortland; a master of science in social studies education; and a bachelor of arts in history with a minor in physical education, all from Syracuse University.
Ward is the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and pupil personnel at the Cazenovia Central School District and was previously the district's director of special education. He was once an employee of the Central New York Regional Information Center. Ward had also been an elementary principal at Fulton City School District and an assistant elementary principal at the Phoenix Central School District.
The educator also has a doctorate in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. Ward also holds a master of science in special education from Syracuse University; a certificate in advanced study from SUNY Oswego; a bachelor of arts degree in history from SUNY Cortland; and an associate of applied science degree from SUNY Canton.
Patterson — who announced his plan to retire in May — isn't involved in the selection process. He said he realized he had a finite number of board meetings left, so he figured he should turn in his letter of retirement.
"It sort of makes it final, doesn't it?" Patterson said.
He said the situation is bittersweet, but that he is proud of his 39-year education career. The first thing he is going to do when he retires, he said, is take some time to reflect on his career and what he wants to do next.
The superintendent, who has been with the district since 2009, said when one reaches the end of their career "you say 'OK, what have you done?'" He is proud of the district's improved academic rigors, its boosted graduation rate and its after-school programs, among other accomplishments.
He feels comfortable leaving now, confident that the next superintendent is well positioned to lead the district to "new and exciting heights."
"I'm going to miss being a part of such a supportive and positive school district," Patterson said. "I will consider my years spent at Cato to be some of the most satisfying of my career."