New CCS Superintendent Arrives
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Focused on finishing her doctorate, Sarah Spross, an assistant commissioner in Maryland’s Department of Education, drove up last summer and closeted herself at Cooperstown’s Landmark Inn.
On Aug. 28, she turned on the TV and saw the news: Bill Crankshaw, Cooperstown Central School superintendent since 2016, had resigned to return to his hometown and the Greater Johnstown School District.
It clicked, and Monday, March 1, Spross was seated at Crankshaw’s former conference table at Cooperstown Central School, being interviewed on her first day as CCS superintendent.
“I wanted to return to country living,” said the new superintendent, who has lived in Baltimore for decades, but was raised in Millbrook and summered in the Goodyear Lake vicinity, “and to be impactful in a school district.”
She has an offer on a home in Cooperstown for herself and her 11-year-old son, and that morning had just completed a meeting with her leadership team.
Moving 1,200 miles north from a city of 609,000 people to a community of 1,900 isn’t the only adjustment she’s facing.
In Maryland, the Education Department only 24 school district, ranging from 8,000 to 150,000 students. In New York State there are 288 school districts, many Upstate ones, like Cooperstown Central ֪– at 800 students, it’s among the largest in Otsego County.
Spross brings 25 years’ experience in special education, lead teacher and administrator in Florida and New Jersey, joining the Maryland education department 16 years ago.
She received her bachelor’s from Goucher College in Towson, Md., and her master’s from Towson State College.
While she was reluctant, on her first day, to get into her plans for her new job or the school board’s expectations – it’s simply too soon, she said – she spoke of her proudest achievements to date.
One, in charge of the Division of Educator Certification & Program Approval, she streamlined how teachers were certified to teach in that state.
The process had been taking 1-2 years. When she left, “the oldest case was eight days old.” Typically, a certified teacher can now obtain Maryland certification in 1-2 weeks.
Two, in Florida, she worked with the Seminoles to ensure students from the tribe were best placed to benefit most from the programs.
And three, she was able to elevate graduation rates of special-ed students in Maryland.
One of the first challenges Spross and the school board face is how to introduce her to the community in time of COVID-19. “How do I meet the community?” she asked. “How do I meet the community leaders?”
She was planning a Zoom meeting with faculty, and more will be forthcoming as the outreach is worked out.