- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Several area superintendents got to know the new state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia at the recently completed Rural Schools Association meeting.

Officials interviewed Tuesday were impressed with what they heard. The event was held July 12-14 at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown.

Elia started her position earlier this month, replacing John King, who left in December to become senior adviser to federal secretary Arne Duncan.

The Rural Schools Association is a statewide, member-driven organization dedicated to representing the interests of small and rural school districts in the state. Franklin Superintendent Gordon Daniels, the 2014-15 chairman of the organization, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Oneonta City School District Superintendent Joseph Yelich said he met Elia at the opening night dinner and offered whatever assistance his district could provide. She was the keynote speaker on July 13.

“She has her hands full,” with dealing with such issues as the Common Core, and changing state regulations, Yelich said. Since King left, the department lost a number of key officials that have to be replaced.

In her first acts, “she has demonstrated a lot of savvy,” looking carefully at finances and working with the Regents on issues such as tenure, Yelich said. She has been open to listening and working with all stakeholders, he added.

Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES District Superintendent Nicholas Savin said with her speech, “she made a very good first impression.”

Savin said he was looking forward to working with Elia in the future. The challenge will be in restoring the faith lost in the transition, so people will be willing to work together to strengthen education, he said.

“That’s what we are all here for,” Savin said.


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