Feb 16, 2012 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent James Froio was at a basketball game last week when the drumline performed at half-time. Previously cut from the budget, the funds for the percussive program were reinstated in August.
“I turned to my wife and I said, ‘Wow.’ Had we not made that decision in August, none of this would have happened,” Froio said. “There are some things you do [as superintendent], you don’t realize what an impact it really makes at the time you make the decision.”
Froio took the helm of the J-E Central School District amid one of the biggest scandals in the district’s deeply-rooted history. One hundred days into the school year, Froio is helping J-E rebuild.
“The future for the district is very bright,” he said. “We hit a low spot, but I think now it’s going to keep getting better and better.”
He came to Jordan-Elbridge after serving as executive principal at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, an administrative position that left him in charge of three other principals. The high school, alone, housed 2,400 students at C-NS. Jordan-Elbridge has about 1,500 students district-wide.
“When all of the news broke about J-E in the newspaper [in the spring], I remember looking at a friend of mine and saying, ‘I’m going to apply there to be the superintendent,’” Froio said. Fast forward to July 1, and Froio made that a reality. He came into the district at a time when many residents were unhappy with the district’s decisions. The district was, and still is, entangled in numerous lawsuits regarding the board of education and administrative decisions.
“I think, obviously, that the litigation was on everyone’s mind — the press, their attention was focused on it,” Froio said. “My job was to refocus the district on the students and how we can best move the district forward. The litigation is my burden, that shouldn’t be everyone’s burden.”
Despite the media attention on the district, Froio has kept his attention on the needs of the students.
“I don’t lose focus on what the real mission is,” he said. “That’s to make Jordan-Elbridge a great place to go to school.”
Froio has worked to blend well with the school board — a mixture of members who were around while news broke in the district and three new, fresh members.
“The biggest thing that had to be done was establishing a trusting relationship with the board, the teachers, the community and the kids,” Froio said. “When I first got here, there was a lack of trust all around.”
Creating a trusting environment has been key, he said.
“The biggest thing that had to be done was establishing a trusting relationship with the board, the teachers, the community and the kids,” Froio said. “Establishing trust doesn’t mean establishing agreement. It means you’re going to stand behind what you said. I’m working in the best interest of the school district.”
As he enters into the heart of the school budget season, the district expects the budget to remain nearly flat in 2012-13, with a 5.25 percent increase in state aid.
“The district is in good financial shape,” Froio said. “I”m pleased with the budget process.”
He doesn’t expect any cuts and will be bringing back a technology teacher. In addition to restoring the drumline, funding for a third-grade teacher, sports programs and the color guard was also added back into the budget.
“People have forgotten these things because we did it so early [in the school year],” Froio said.
All in all, Froio is enjoying the move from principal to superintendent and looks forward to creating the best possible school environment, for residents and students alike.
“It’s very rewarding working here. A lot of things needed to be improved. This gave me an opportunity to make a very positive impact on students and the community,” he said. “It’s a very rewarding job, there’s no doubt about that.”