Called “the perfect fit” for the job, White Plains schools Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet was formally hired Thursday to oversee education in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow public schools.
His four-year appointment, which was expected, came on a unanimous, check-the-final-box vote of the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns. , will succeed Dr. Howard Smith, the district’s only schools chief in this century, on July 1.
Board Vice President Mimi Godwin, who chaired a superintendent search committee, said the hunt for Smith’s successor had been nationwide, attracting 59 hopefuls. In the end, however, their chosen hire turned out to be a 15-minute drive away. The committee had interviewed 14 candidates, referring seven to the full school board, but “after careful screening, and careful research,” Godwin said, “we decided that Dr. Clouet was the perfect fit.”
Seated beside the board room’s oversized fireplace, Clouet looked on quietly, taking notes—near, but not yet a part of, the meeting table’s complement of elected and administration officials. The seven-member board quickly confirmed Clouet's $253,000-a-year appointment. A standing-room-only audience, drawn more by a science-project exposition than the superintendent’s selection, gave Clouet a sustained round of applause after the vote.
Though he will not be starting on his job officially until July 1, Clouet expects in the meantime to discuss next year’s spending plans, among other things, with Dr. Smith and the board. “I’ll be part of the process,” he said in response to a question after Thursday’s meeting, “but it will be Howard’s budget.”
Clouet said he also expects to work with Smith and the board to hire a new assistant superintendent for curriculum, part of Albany's push to establish core educational standards statewide.
“I think the district is well-positioned to adapt to the new Core Curriculum,” he said, calling it “a more-rational, transparent approach” to learning standards. “Whether you’re in Dogpatch or you’re in Westchester, it should be, ‘This is what third-graders do; this is what second-graders do,’ and so forth,” he said.
In a 27-year career, Clouet has been a teacher and high school principal as well as a superintendent in three other school districts. Besides White Plains, where he has held the top spot since 2009, Clouet was superintendent in two Connecticut districts, New London and Thomaston. A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Clouet went on to earn master’s degrees at Brown and Fairfield universities and a doctorate in educational administration at Columbia University’s Teachers College.