BROOKFIELD – As Brookfield Local School officials decided in recent weeks on a new superintendent, the community spoke out.
And the school board listened.
Brookfield Local School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to name middle school Principal Toby Gibson as the district’s superintendent. He replaces Velina Jo Taylor, who has accepted the superintendent position at Lakeview Local School District near Cortland.
Board members unanimously voted to make Gibson the superintendent Wednesday at a special meeting.
After the meeting, board President Ronda Bonekovic said the board heard the voices of support for Gibson and high school Principal Adam Lewis. Bonekovic said the board thought Gibson was the better candidate.
“He’s a Brookfield guy and well liked,’’ Bonekovic said. “He had a lot of community support that didn’t go unnoticed.’’
The district initially received 26 applications for the post, and narrowed the field to four interviewees and two who met with the board. Gibson and Lewis had not been included in the final two.
During the May school board meeting, when board members had anticipated naming a new superintendent, about 75 district students, parents, teachers and residents attended. Many of them urged the board to consider Gibson and Adams for the position.
The board could not agree on either candidate and opted to re-evaluate Gibson and Lewis because Bonekovic said last month that a split board vote could cause an overwhelming obstacle for the next superintendent.
Just before the board voted at Wednesday’s meeting in naming Gibson to the job, Bonekovic joked with Gibson, who was seated in the public gallery.
“Toby, do you want to be here? This is your last chance,” she said.
“Yes,’’ Gibson said, with a smile.
Gibson commented after the vote.
“I’m excited about this opportunity. It’s a dream come true for me,’’ he said.
Gibson will begin the new job Aug. 1, and was signed to a three-year contract with an $88,000 annual salary, according to material provided by the board. The salary is the same as Taylor’s, Bonekovic said after the meeting.
After the meeting Gibson, 46, said he always had the goal of someday becoming the district’s superintendent.
“I believe in my abilities,’’ he said.
An immediate project that Gibson said he’s working on is upgrading the district’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics program, also known as STEAM.
“I’ve been working on a $60,000 grant for this,’’ he said.
If Brookfield receives the grant, Gibson said the district would be able to buy equipment and establish a “spirit shop’’ for the school system.
“It’s a store where we would be able to have and sell school t-shirts, hats and buttons,’’ he said.
A lifelong Brookfield resident, Gibson started in Brookfield schools and worked for a year with Warren City School District.
Since returning to the district, he has taught math, science and history mostly in the middle school. He then worked as Brookfield’s elementary principal for five years and then three years as middle school principle. He also has been an assistant football coach at Brookfield and other school districts.