posted on May 31, 2011 15:22
You might describe the Williamsville Central School District as "larger than life." In fact, any Western New York non-city school district with 10,500 students and 13 school buildings is gargantuan by most standards.
Despite that, they still might need to raise the doorways at the Williamsville District Office.
New superintendent Scott Martzloff will take over in July, all seven-feet and one-inch of him. Of course, that means that Martzloff is leaving his post as superintendent of Byron-Bergen schools, a district one-tenth the size of his new one.
Martzloff and his two years of experience will move in as ten-year Williamsville veteran Howard Smith retires. Martzloff will have control over 13 school buildings, a sight more than the three at B-B (two of which are technically connected to each other).
And if we haven't differentiated the two districts enough, consider this: for the upcoming school year, Martzloff fashioned a $20.4-million school budget at Byron-Bergen. That's about one-eighth of the budget Williamsville passed two weeks ago, for $159.2-million.
But ask him about the new job, and Martzloff says: no fear.
"Going in there, I want to take the time to hear from people, to listen to their concerns and what they feel the strengths of the district are," he says. "I wouldn't say I have a number-one fear."
With 15 years experience in education, and less than two as a superintendent, that might seem a bit far-fetched. But then, consider Martzloff's confidence in himself.
"I think my skills lend myself to that (job)," he says. "I'm a big believer in collaboration. And with a bigger district, you also have more people on-deck to get the job done."
Martzloff returned to that collaboration mantra several times during our talk. He also listed off other strong personal characteristics he sees in himself: dedication, a hard worker, the ability to bring out others' strengths, and the fact that he's "constantly learning."
"I think my leadership style will be a good fit there," he says.
His leaving Byron-Bergen comes as a surprise to community members. Martzloff was hired in July 2009 after a ten-year run in the Rush-Henrietta and Rochester City school districts, where he held numerous assistant administrative roles. Byron-Bergen marked the first time he'd served as a superintendent. Now, less than two years later, he's moving up the ladder again.
Byron-Bergen will have to kick its own superintendent search into high-gear to find a replacement, hopefully before the fall. But whatever the outcome, Martzloff is confident the district will succeed.
"My hope in coming here was to make Byron-Bergen a great school district. And I think we're on that path," he says. "We've formulated a strategic plan for the future. And I think it will go a long way towards making Byron-Bergen the best school district in the region."
The Board of Education just recently adopted that plan at its May 26th meeting. The plan includes measures to give students greater challenges in the classroom, while maintaining a positive learning environment and building upon the strengths each student has.
At that same meeting, board members had a chance to sit down with Martzloff and discuss his sudden and unexpected departure from the district. Martzloff did not disclose any details of that conversation, and several school board members did not return phone calls when contacted by WBTA.
"I think there's support for me. I also think there's a degree of sadness and loss," Martzloff said of the board. "Just like for myself: there's mixed emotions."
Martzloff also leaves at an inopportune time, just after a terrible tragedy hit the school district. 16-year-old Eric Wall was struck and killed by a train in the Village of Bergen on May 20th. The night of Eric's wake, Martzloff was accepting his new job in Williamsville and being introduced to the public.
Martzloff does not feel any sense of abandonment at this difficult time.
"This process – me going to Williamsville – was chronicled in the media quite a bit, prior to our tragedy," he insists. "They just happened to run parallel right at the end." Martzloff's finalist status for the Williamsville job was leaked to the media four days before Eric's death. His expected hiring was unofficially leaked again, one day prior.
Martzloff also maintains that this quick jump to a new job is not characteristic of him.
"I really wasn't looking to make this jump; it is a unique opportunity...one of the premier districts in New York State," he says. "Certainly, when I came to Byron-Bergen, it wasn't my intent to stay two years and move on to someplace else.
"I really and truly have enjoyed it here," Martzloff continues. "We (his family) have, in the last two years, become quite connected to the community."
Martzloff also says his hiring at Williamsville also shines a light on Byron-Bergen, and may aid them in hiring another well-qualified candidate.
"The fact that Williamsville would choose me, after two years being a superintendent, really speaks well to Byron-Bergen Central School District's selection process when they picked me back in '08-'09," he says.
And he harbors only hope for the future at Byron-Bergen.
"There's tremendous potential here," Martzloff says. "We are on the upswing. We now have a roadmap to get to where we want to go."