New superintendent making plans

NORTHVILLE – The Northville Central School District’s new superintendent has already started working with officials on new goals for the district.

Leslie Ford, the new superintendent, has been at the district for nearly two months and is ready to begin her first school year at Northville.

Ford, former director of human resources for the Dutchess Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Poughkeepsie, took over for former Interim Superintendent Debra Lynker.

A career educator, Ford has been in education at the elementary-, middle- and high-school levels. As an administrator, she served as guidance administrator, vice principal and superintendent for public schools in New York and California.

As a permanent superintendent, Ford said she wanted to do more than a one-year plan. Instead of just trying to maintain services, Ford said she wanted to improve the school by developing a long-term plan going into the future.

“We are a Focus District. …We have made incremental changes, I don’t want to knock that, because it takes a while to turn that around, but we still have a long way to go in both schools,” Ford said.

The district was designated a Focus District in 2012 by the state Education Department. In Northville, the focus schools are the high school and elementary school. Focus schools showed low performance and lack of progress in English language arts and math combined or graduation rates for one or more accountability groups, the state said. The accountability groups included racial/ethnic groups, low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities. Focus districts have to create and implement a “district comprehensive improvement plan,” which will outline how the districts will use Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act money to promote academic achievement.

Ford said she was involved in writing educational plans, mandatory for focus schools, this year.

“The state loves details,” Ford said.

The plans for the district focuses on preparation, collaboration and analysis.

Another change was a new shift in English and math instruction as part of the Common Core education standards, focusing on literacy and college readiness. This included balanced reading of non-fiction and fiction and early vocabulary in English and emphasizing speed and accuracy with math, along with applying math to real world situations.

One of the first steps Ford has taken is revising the district’s mission statement, which now discusses offering a rigorous, differentiated method of instruction to challenge and “ignite the potential” of students.

“Everything needs to point to each other, there can be no gaps,” Ford said.

Ford began her administrative career at a charter school in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Kings River-Hardwick Elementary School, before moving to Onteora Central School in Boiceville, Ulster County. After moving through several different districts and working at Dutchess BOCES, Ford said she wanted to settle down and stay somewhere. Northville came up on her radar through meeting HFM BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel, who notified her of the search for a permanent superintendent.

“I actually moved up here at the end of July. I love it, I really love it,” Ford said.

Ford will be paid $125,500 yearly, plus benefits.