SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The man chosen to take the helm of Scarsdale High School is choosing to walk away from the top-rated high school in a district of more than a million students to join a district with fewer than 5,000.
Kenneth Bonamo, who has been principal of New York City's selective Townsend Harris High School since 2008, is to assume the Scarsdale High School principal position in early July. He plans to move to Westchester County.
Bonamo will fill the position left vacant by the resignation a year ago of John Klemme, who had the position for 13 years. The principal's duties have been handled in the interim by Fred Goldberg and Kelley Hamm.
Bonamo referred to Scarsdale's reputation, both in New York and in the nation, as a major reason for making the change. He also likes the idea of moving to a smaller district.
"Going from a district with more than a million students to Scarsdale, with vastly fewer students and less bureaucracy, is very attractive to me," Bonamo said. "I think it's obvious that the staff, students and parents value creativity and innovation. I'm excited to be part of that kind of community."
Bonamo cited Scarsdale High School's move from the Advanced Placement program to Advanced Topics, and creating a spring senior project program as examples of what he called Scarsdale's innovative approach.
He said he also is looking forward to working with the various community groups. "At Townsend Harris, I had the good fortune to be at the top-rated school in New York City, and we had a very supportive PTA and alumni situation. I'm sure the support in the community will be another dimension in Scarsdale. I welcome the opportunity."
Bonamo said he was not familiar with the Scarsdale district officials until he began the interview process in March.
"It was a very thorough process," he said. "I met with officials, committees and other constituent groups. There was a lot that happened over a two-month period."
Scarsdale's search for a new principal began in December. A screening committee of teachers, parents and administrators interviewed 27 candidates out of a field of more than 75, according to Scarsdale Schools Superintendent Michael McGill.
"After two initial rounds of interviews and preliminary reference checks, semi-finalists came to the district for day-long interviews that involved more than 70 students, parents and teachers," McGill said. "My recommendation to appoint Mr. Bonamo followed further reference checks, a visiting team journey to his school and a meeting with our board of education. There was a strong consensus that he is the right person to take the school forward into the 2000s."