Tonawanda News — The Niagara-Wheatfield School Board officially welcomed some new faces during its reorganization meeting on Wednesday.
New board member Richard Sirianni and interim superintendent James Knowles both took the oath of office in front of about 60 people in the Adult Learning Center at the Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School.
Knowles, who was appointed to his interim post at the June 21 board meeting, officially started work as superintendent on July 2. He has spent 48 years in education, as a teacher, athletic director, high school principal and as interim superintendent with two other districts.
Sitting board president Steven Sabo also took the oath of office as he and Sirianni were both elected to three-year terms in May.
Sabo was again voted into the president's chair by the board and sitting vice president Michael Brock will also keep his position.
The board filled the vacant treasurer's position, hiring Ashley Wood, a math teacher who had been laid off from the district.
"It helps us by eliminating someone off of our unemployment," Sabo said.
Sabo said two people applied for the position. The other candidate was also a teacher who had been laid off by the district.
"It keeps a teacher who lives here in Niagara-Wheatfield working in Niagara-Wheatfield," Sabo said. "It was a win-win situation for both the district and her."
Sabo said that he is glad to be back as school board president.
"I'm just looking forward to working with a great new superintendent who will hopefully move us in the right direction," Sabo said.
Knowles said that, while his title may say interim superintendent, he doesn't think of himself as just a placeholder.
"I am the superintendent for the year and I am not here just to pass the time," Knowles said. "I am here to try and help in any way I can to get a very, very good district where it has to be."
Knowles encouraged the members of the public in attendance to engage him whenever they have a question.
"If you want to talk about something I'd be happy to talk to you," Knowles said. "I'm not going to hide in the office."
Knowles has been meeting with principals, union leaders and board members since starting in the position at the beginning of July.
"I've got started to see what we need to do, got good input from people, so I think I got to see what we need to do to start to move," Knowles said.
Knowles hopes to get people excited about the upcoming school year and about the district, he said.
"That's a big job," Knowles said.