FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Wednesday, Fort Edward Union Free School District chose a new superintendent. Richard DeMallie was appointed at a special meeting of the Fort Edward Board of Education.

DeMallie currently serves as the High School Principal at Gloversville Enlarged School District. His position with Fort Edward is a three-year agreement, set to begin on July 1, with a starting salary of $133,000. He replaces interim superintendent Mark Bessen.

“I am truly honored to become a member of the Fort Edward Union Free School District as their next superintendent,” said DeMallie in a statement on Wednesday. “The excitement I have to join the school and continue to provide the children of Fort Edward with a wonderful educational experience is hard to put into words. I look forward to entrenching myself in the community and working with all stakeholders to the benefit of every child in the district. My family and I thank the Board of Education and the community of Fort Edward for this opportunity.”

Fort Edward began searching for a new superintendent in fall 2021, surveying the community and holding a forum in January. Input was gathered there on what kinds of traits a new superintendent for the small school district should possess. The school board began its interview process soon after.

“After three rounds of interviews, Richard rose to the top of our list and it became clear to the board that he has the skills and experiences to successfully lead the Fort Edward Union Free School District. As a Board, we would also like to thank all of the faculty, staff, students, and community members who participated in the process,” said Fort Edward School Board President Thomas Roche.

DeMallie has worked in Gloversville schools for the last 21 years. He first served as a physical education teacher for grades 6-12, then stepped up to assistant high school principal, followed by principal, where he has served since 2008.

The district DeMallie is inheriting has had a few complicated years in regards to its future. Last October, Fort Edward Union Free School District reached the end of a years-long merger study with South Glens Falls Central School District. After two studies and months of public information outreach, the Fort Edward community voted down a merger that would have saved costs by incorporating Fort Edward students into South Glens Falls’ student body.

The merger would have continued the use of the Fort Edward CSD building and would have offset budget issues that caused the district to cancel extracurricular clubs and sports teams for the 2020-21 school year. Those activities came back the following year, but the future is uncertain, as enrollment in the district continues to decline.

WSWHE BOCES assisted the district in the search. BOCES District Superintendent James Dexter emphasized the importance of keeping community stakeholders in the conversation, so that the same voices that said no to the merger would help make choices for the district’s future.

“The best interests of the students were at the forefront of all of their decisions, and allowed the board to choose the candidate who best fits their ideals,” Dexter said. “I would like to thank all the individuals from the school and community who participated in the community forum, the advisory committees and helped in the selection process.”