Onteora, meet your new superintendent. She’s also your old superintendent.
The Onteora School Board on April 20 approved a four-year contract for Victoria McLaren, who resigned in May 2021 to become business administrator for the Highland school district.
At the time, McLaren said the COVID-19 pandemic led her to re-assess her life priorities.
“It does take a lot of time to do this position and I have a child who is in fifth grade,” she said then, adding the new position would allow her to spend time with her son, who entered middle school in Kingston in the fall. “I had left to take a step back and spend a little more time with my family and make sure my son was doing well in middle school, and he’s doing great. Bailey Middle School is a wonderful place,” she said.
Now that she has spent time away, McLaren said she is looking forward to getting back to Onteora. “I have a lot of history at Onteora. I have a deep respect and affection for the district,” she said. “It just seemed to work out in such a way that it worked for me, and it will work for the district, and I’m very excited to continue to support them.”
McLaren said she intends to meet with district officials and members of the Onteora community to figure out what changes need to be put in place moving forward. “It’s been a really rough year for everyone and I know that the district has been working really hard. (Interim Superintendent) Marystephanie Corsones has been doing an incredible job. I would want to know what things have been put in place since I’ve left that are working really well that I need to continue to support and what other support people would like to see to benefit the students,” McLaren said. “I certainly want to honor all of the work that has been done. I know everybody there is incredibly dedicated and has been doing everything they can. So I don’t want to come in and put changes in place without knowing what people are really looking for…I want to be inclusive and cooperative and communicate with everybody before making those kinds of decisions.”
In April 2021, the School Board retained McPherson & Jacobson, an executive recruitment and development firm, to conduct a search for a new superintendent. The contract also includes 120 days of facilitated transition.
“I’m one out of six board members but my experience was she rose above a very qualified pack,” board President Kevin Salem said. One of McLaren’s most frequently cited characteristics during stakeholder meetings was consistency of leadership, Salem noted.
Though McLaren cited family as a reason for stepping down last year, it came at a time when the board rejected her recommendation to replace Director of Physical Education, Athletics and Health and Dean of Students Kim Pilla, allowing her to return. Pilla was ultimately replaced by Ryan Naccarato and the Dean of Students position was eliminated.
McLaren starts June 6 and will be paid $185,000 per year, plus a $3100 longevity bonus that accounts for her prior employment with the district. In another two years, the bonus increases to $3600. She will receive 26 paid vacation days plus holidays.
She began her Onteora career in 2005 as assistant superintendent for business and was promoted to superintendent in 2017.
McPherson & Jacobson will work with stakeholders to come up with a list of transition priorities. Interim Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones will assist with the transition.