Reaction varies to resignation of New Hartford superintendent

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NEW HARTFORD — New Hartford school district Superintendent Robert J. Nole is resigning effective April 1, after being superintendent since 2008.

His resignation was announced by district Board of Education President Pamela King at the board's meeting Tuesday night.

King read a statement during the meeting, saying the board has formally accepted Nole's resignation effective April 1. She said Nole had served the district for over 17 years overall, noting that in that time the district received numerous awards and accolades.

The board "wishes Mr. Nole well in his future endeavors," said King, adding the board will immediately begin the process of seeking a new superintendent. The board will work closely with current district leadership and BOCES to appoint an interim superintendent to oversee the district until a permanent replacement is found, she said.

The current school year "has been the most challenging in recent memory," said King. COVID-19's impacts on the district's instructional schedule have included an all-remote format for several weeks from late 2020 until this week, when students returned to school buildings including grades K-2 fully in-person and grades 3-12 on a hybrid schedule.

An online petition at change.org that called for the resignation or firing of Nole received 220 signatures. A statement at the site said the district had "months to develop a plan for reopening our schools" and had "changed course at least two times without any concrete reasoning behind those decisions." It further said parents were frustrated and demanded change of the district's upper administration.

Nole, in a statement, said "it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the New Hartford students, staff, parents and community residents" including as an assistant superintendent beginning in 2003 followed by becoming superintendent.

"Together we have created significant program growth," said Nole, citing various advancements during his tenure. He also noted the district has "continually received awards as one of the top-rated school districts in the nation." He mentioned "multiple Gold and Silver Medals by U.S. News and World Report and our schools were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence."

Nole said he would continue as superintendent through April 1 "to provide a seamless transition so our schools may continue to move forward." He added "I am excited about the new ventures and opportunities ahead of me and I am forever grateful to the talented and dedicated group of New Hartford employees."

During the school board meeting Tuesday night, board member James Stephens read a statement prior to King in which Stephens said he regretted Nole's resignation. He said Nole had brought the district to a point where it was highly rated in the state, and Stephens also referred to a "100% graduation rate."

Nole additionally has "brought this district up financially," said Stephens. He further said Nole overall has "done a great job for this district in the time that he's been here."

King concluded her statement by saying the board is "focused on moving the district forward immediately and over the long term." She said "our number-one priority is the well-being and education of our students," adding "progress can only be achieved through cooperation and collaboration with the administration, teachers, staff and parents."

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