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Greenburgh Superintendent Q&A Begins With Ross

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – As the search for a Greenburgh school’s superintendent winds down, residents are taking a chance to get to know the district’s potential leaders.

Ronald Ross, high school principal and interim superintendent, was featured Wednesday in a meet-and-greet session at Woodlands High School in the first of three separate sessions with the candidates. 

After a brief outline of his personal background, Ross was quizzed on various aspects of his educational philosophy and vision for the future of the school district while a few dozen community members listened on.

For roughly an hour and a half, Ross talked about his idea of a new school building, a solar powered K-8 school, as well as his disdain for standardized testing and the importance of good teaching staff.

“I’m always straight forth,” Ross said afterwards. “I said what I believed. I didn’t say what I thought they wanted to hear.”

Throughout the session the candidate spoke about what he said was Greenburgh’s rich history, diverse student body and the need for a strong leader in the district as he told parents why he wanted to be Greenburgh Central 7’s next superintendent. 

“I found in administration I could have a larger voice,” Ross said referring to his years as a teacher before becoming an administrator. “Somebody has got to stand up for the children and the community.”

Ross, along with a pair of New Jersey superintendents, outlasted a field of 33 potential candidates for the position after the district said it performed an in-depth vetting process.

On Thursday, Anthony Cavanna, the superintendent in West Orange, N.J., will be at Woodlands for a similar question and answer session, followed on Friday by Robert Copeland, a superintendent in Piscataway, N.J.

The school board is expected to have deliberations Friday and hopes to have a permanent superintendent chosen by the end of the week.

In the meantime, an anonymous blog and Facebook page opposing Ross as a candidate has begun circulating around town.  Both webpages cite concerns over what its author calls Ross’ “checkered past and uncertain future” as a district leader.

At Tuesday’s work session, Greenburgh parent William Ng took the criticism’s directly to the board of education.

“Hiring Mr. Ross as our superintendent would be at best incompetent and at worst corrupt,” Ng said after suggesting Ross was close friends with many on the board.

Objectors to Ross’ potential appointment, like Ng, point to his previous stints as superintendent in Mount Vernon and Roosevelt, a Long Island school district.

In 2007, Ross resigned from his post atop the Roosevelt Union Free School District, three years after he was appointed by the state to take over the struggling system.  During his tenure at Roosevelt, Ross was widely blamed for budget problems in the district, including a projected $12.3 million deficit, according to a New York Times article.

State officials, however, credited Ross for higher achievement in elementary grades and the opening of two schools, according to several reports. On Wednesday, Ross dismissed criticisms from Ng's and the anonymous blogger.

“Every place I’ve been, I’ve left it better,” he said. 

Board President Terry Williams also brushed off the criticism of Ross as well as the New York Times' articles regarding his time in Roosevelt.   

“That information, that is just a snapshot. A lot of it never talks about the resolution and as a result, I don’t give it much weight,” Williams said.

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