ROCHESTER — Rochester City School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas announced his resignation during an Oct. 27 press conference at the district’s central office.
Although the superintendent’s resignation is effective Dec. 31, school board president Van Henri White said Vargas will serve until the end of his four-year contract, which expires on June 30, 2106. During that time he will work as a consultant to Interim Superintendent Dan Lowengard, who is a former superintendent for the Syracuse city school district. White noted that Lowengard recently worked for the Rochester district as a consultant.
"Daniel Lowengard is an experienced urban superintendent, who like Dr. Vargas, is committed to the cause of equity and excellence in urban education," White added.
Vargas, a Dominican Republic native, served on the school board from 1996 to 2003 and was board president for four of those years. He had previously worked as a guidance counselor in the Greece school district for more than 20 years.
The school board chose Vargas as superintendent in July 2012, nearly a year after he took on the role on an interim basis, with an annual salary of $195,000. Earlier this year, he had filed a notice of claim against the board over resolutions it had adopted that he claimed violated his contract.
During the press conference, Vargas said that now was an appropriate time to leave his position.
"The district needs certainty," he said. "And the board will have time to (choose) a permanent leader."
White said the superintendent knew his contract would not be renewed after it expired next year. He noted that Vargas and the board have had differing views on governance on such issues as transportation and school partnership procedures. The latter ultimately led to a positive result with an educational partnership between the district and the University of Rochester at East High School but at the expense of a lot of energy spent, White said.
"Those types of disagreements wear on you," he added.
In a statement, Mayor Lovely Warren said she would have preferred that the superintendent finish out his term although she acknowledged that she doesn’t have a say in this matter. White said a timeline for choosing the next superintendent had not been set yet.
Too many families leave the city of Rochester because of academic improvement needed at many of the district’s schools, Warren noted.
"As our community comes together to address the poverty crisis in our city, we cannot afford to let personality conflicts harm the educational needs of our children or their families," she stated.
"It’s not about me, it’s not about Bolgen, it’s about our kids," noted Lowengard during the press conference. "Our kids can do better when everybody in the community decides not to see who’s at blame but to say how can I do things better. And that will be our theme that we will look at ourselves in the mirror as the adults and decide where we can do more for our students. That’s the bottom line. That’s why we come to work every single day."