Timothy J. Vernsey makes plans to leave Ogdensburg school district

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OGDENSBURG —The Ogdensburg City School District is seeking a replacement for long-serving Superintendent Timothy J. Vernsey.

Mr. Vernsey, retiring effective Jan. 1, 2019, was hired by the district in 1987 as a school psychologist and since then has held the positions of assistant middle school principal, Madill Elementary School principal, assistant superintendent and, since 2008, superintendent.

“My whole professional career has been with the district,” Mr. Vernsey said.

He is a 1979 graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy.

School officials recently announced that they are seeking candidates for the position of superintendent of schools, and hope to find a replacement for Mr. Vernsey by next March. The new school administrator is expected to formally assume duties on Jan. 1, 2019.

The district is advertising a salary of up to $140,000, commensurate with experience, and with negotiated benefits.

District officials are requesting that all credentials, letters of interest, a completed application form and current resume be forwarded to the district before Dec. 29.

Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, said Ogdensburg school officials have been deliberate in allowing a long overlap between hiring a new top administrator and the departure of Mr. Vernsey. That overlap, he said, is crucial to allowing a seamless transition.

“As you know, replacing the superintendent can be an anxious time in a school district,” Mr. Burns said. “Tim has had a long and successful run as OFA’s superintendent. What I can say thus far is that Tim and the Board of Education have been very thoughtful and proactive about the process. Tim provided early notice of his retirement, which is crucial for planning purposes. This allows the board of education to develop a search process that has a conservative timeline to account for a sufficient application and review period as well as any potential delays.”

Mr. Burns said the Ogdensburg school board has opted to do a full search for a new top administrator, which allows internal and external candidates sufficient time to come forward and express interest in the job.

Mr. Vernsey said it will be difficult to leave the school after decades working in the district — a span that has stretched from his days as a student — to that of a professional educator.

“It is always very difficult to leave something you have done for so long and been so passionate about, but when I retire, I will have 32 years of service,” Mr. Vernsey said. “And I feel as though I am just ready for a new chapter in my life.”

Mr. Vernsey said he has seen multiple changes in the community, and in the approach to education in his three decades in the district, and is proud of his accomplishments. Two that come to mind during his tenure are weathering the financial difficulties brought on by the Great Recession of 2008, and the successful completion of the district’s $57 million capital project.

In 2008, Mr. Vernsey said his patience and calculated decision-making played a key role in bringing the district through the 2008 recession.

“Many very difficult decisions had to be made then and are still being made to this day regarding the finances of the district,” Mr. Vernsey said. “It was not easy and I would not want to go through it again, but I am proud of the decisions I made and because of them the district is now in better, but not great, financial condition.”

Likewise, he said the district’s $57 million capital project has been instrumental in positioning the Ogdensburg school system for the future.

“I can’t be more happy with how the project has made our buildings and facilities state of the art and some of the finest facilities in the state of New York,” Mr. Vernsey said. “This was not an easy sell and I am so proud that the community supported it with an 89 percent approval rating when it went to public vote.”

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