The Putnam Examiner

Put Valley School Board Taps Wills to Stay as District Super

We are part of The Trust Project
Putnam Valley Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frances Wills is set to stay with the district for three more years after her interim period wraps up. Wills (pictured above) said she’s excited to continue to push the district forward.
Putnam Valley Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frances Wills is set to stay with the district for three more years after her interim period wraps up. Wills (pictured above) said she’s excited to continue to push the district forward.

The Putnam Valley Board of Education might not have undertaken a search for a superintendent, but that didn’t stop them from appointing the best match possible to lead the district.

The board announced and passed a resolution last Thursday to turn current interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frances Wills into the permanent leader of the district. Touting the district’s ability to move forward with Wills at the helm this school year, the board unanimously supported signing Wills to three more years with her term ending in July 2017. Wills, equally enthusiastic about the move, stated she was “so grateful for the confidence that you’re showing in me.”

“I intend to make sure that I’m worthy of that confidence and trust,” Wills said. “I’m delighted to be here.”

Board president Jeanine Rufo said Wills has brought new accomplishments and energy to the district over the school year, making for a climate change within each school.

After the meeting, Rufo called Wills “one of the most child centered leaders” that Rufo has ever met. As a collaborator, Wills has been able to bring staff together in order to move student initiatives forward and her experience is also important, Rufo added.

“There is nothing that really ruffles her or is unexpected,” Rufo said. “She’s coming with a real expertise.”

The board was so content with Wills, that by mid-year, it was hoping to keep Wills for more than just one year. At first, it was only going to be one additional year, but in the last few weeks, a three-year extension was decided, Rufo said.

“We wanted the stability. We could have opened it up and found the perfect superintendent but we could have not and either way there’s still a learning curve,” Rufo said. “We’re moving in a very good momentum, forward motion right now and we want to keep that up.”

Other board members spoke highly of Wills and the dedication she’s displayed in her first year. Board member Valerie Fitzgerald said Wills has reignited the school community’s passion for learning and fellow board member Guy Cohen stated Wills has “proven she’s our educational leader.”

“I was thrilled to have you for a year,” board member David Spittal added. “And I can’t believe we get to keep you for longer than that.”

Wills was originally brought into the Putnam Valley school system on an interim basis over the summer after former superintendent Barbara Nuzzi announced she was leaving the district to take over as school chief for the Tuckahoe school district in Westchester County.

Wills retired from the Briarcliff school system in Westchester in 2010 after serving the district for 16 years. In a June 9, 2010 article from The Journal News, Wills said she was calling it quits to spend more time with family and traveling.

While in retirement, Wills was a staff development coordinator at Pace University. She currently is also an adjunct professor at St. John’s Fischer College and the College of New Rochelle teaching executive leadership.

When deciding to stay out of retirement for a few more years, Wills said she realized running a school district is what she loves to do, while relaying the experience and skills that she has to the community.

This past year, Wills said her major goal was to align professional development with the new Common Core standards, which meant an “enormous thrust into a whole plan for change in term of educational goals.” That also included instituting programs like an authentic science research course and also a foreign language course.

And as much as anyone, Wills wants to keep the district moving upward.

“To actually contribute the skills and experience that I’ve had in Putnam Valley, which is a really unique and wonderful community that I’ve grown very fond of,” she said. “And I’ve grown to respect and I enjoy being with the people here and to help them in their search for continued improvement in education.”


We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.