After months of searching for a superintendent to replace Ed Fale, the District 24 Board of Education approved a contract for Don Sturz on May 17. Sturz currently serves as the assistant superintendent for pupil services in the Levittown Union Free School District and will start work as District 24’s superintendent on July 1.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the 24 community,” Sturz said.
Sturz attended Hofstra University, where he earned a dual doctorate in clinical and school psychology. He has been working in school administration for 21 years in both public and private schools and has focused his career mainly on students with disabilities.
“He’s very compassionate, he’s professional and very knowledgeable,” said Levittown Superintendent Tonie McDonald, who has been working with Sturz for about 10 years. “He’ll always be extremely thoughtful and he’s just a great person to be on a team with.”
This past year, Sturz was one of 25 school administrators selected from across New York State to participate in the Future Superintendents Academy, a year-long professional development experience with monthly classes in Albany. From this experience, he said, he has learned more about the instructional and fiscal aspects of school leadership, and has developed a network of educational and legislative leaders.
“I have always sought out opportunities to affect change,” Sturz said.
As the new superintendent, Sturz said he would like to continue the district’s special education program, which Parent Teacher Association President Simona Simone described as a concern of hers at a meeting in January to determine which qualities parents would want in a new superintendent. “People move here to District 24 for [special education] programs, and a superintendent will affect that,” she said.
One of the other criteria brought up at the meeting was that parents wanted someone with knowledge of a centralized high school district, and Sturz has familiarity with such districts from his time working in Merrick. He also said that his experience working in a centralized school district, a K-6 district and a K-12 district could be a boon to District 24.
“I think the fact that my career journey has taken me to all educational programs, I think that might be a perspective that could be very helpful for the district,” Sturz said, adding, “I know what [elementary school students] are preparing for.”
Sturz applied for the position after several of his coworkers told him, “It’s a perfect fit for you,” he said. He then interviewed with Joannn Kaplan and Bob Freier from District Wise Search Consultants, the firm that ran the meeting in January. They asked him about the criteria that the parents laid out at that meeting, with members of the teachers union listening in. After that, Kaplan and Freier recommended him for the position, along with five other candidates.
Members of the Board of Education then met with people he worked with in Levittown and asked Sturz to lay out his 100-day entry plan, in which he wrote that he would listen to district members and familiarize himself with the policies and finances of the district. In the end, Kaplan said, “All seven members of the board felt that he was the right fit for them.”
Sturz said he has already started his homework and listened to several parents express their concerns at the May 17 meeting. He also said he “had a wonderful evening on Thursday” and “really appreciated how they welcomed me in.”