The City School District of Albany Board of Education has selected veteran New York public school leader Joseph Hochreiter to serve as superintendent of the 9,000-student district.
Hochreiter has 14 years’ experience as a superintendent in two New York districts, leading the Elmira City School District from 2009-13 and the Hendrick Hudson Central School District from 2013-23.
“The Board of Education believes that Joseph Hochreiter will bring an exceptional combination of diverse leadership experiences, a strong focus on and commitment to advancing equity, a collaborative leadership style, excellence in district fiscal and operational systems, and a passion for providing every student with the relevant and engaging opportunities and experiences to achieve their fullest potential,” said Board President Vickie Smith.
“We believe he is the right candidate to lead our school district forward at this important time.”
The board selected Hochreiter following a national search led by Capital Region BOCES. Pending board approval of a three-year contract at Thursday’s board meeting, he will begin June 1.
“I am honored to have been selected to serve the City School District of Albany and excited to join a dedicated team of administrators, teachers and support staff in advancing the exceptional work in which they already are engaged,” Hochreiter said. “There is a steadfast commitment to equity and a clear and present focus on meeting the needs of every student throughout the school community.
“My leadership experiences in two very uniquely different school districts have prepared me for success in this new opportunity. My focus in Albany will be on working in partnership with the board, staff, families and a richly diverse community to build upon existing innovative programs for students and continue to dream together so that all learners are provided a world-class education.”
Hendrick Hudson Central School District
Hochreiter comes to Albany after 10 school years as superintendent in the Hendrick Hudson school district, a Westchester County district with about 2,300 students. In that role, he expanded mental health services and social-emotional learning opportunities for students at all grade levels, and spearheaded a strategic plan initiative that included extensive community input and led an effort to expand the district’s STEM programs at all levels.
The New York State Council of School Superintendents recognized the district’s commitment to diverse hiring practices during his tenure, and the district also was recognized for its commitment to music education. Under his leadership, U.S. News & World Report recognized Hendrick Hudson High School as a Top 100 High School in New York, and as a Project Lead the Way School of Distinction.
Hochreiter also led the district through a succession of challenges that followed the announcement in 2017 that the Indian Point Power Plant would close, taking away approximately 30% of the district’s annual revenue. Hochreiter oversaw a lengthy and exhaustive advocacy and recovery process, working with elected leaders and the local community to create a long-range financial plan to mitigate the worst of the financial impact and secure the district’s financial footing.
While managing those fiscal challenges as well as the major challenges of the pandemic, the district’s planning also included intensive study of a realignment of its three elementary schools. The Board of Education voted in April 2021 to shift elementary enrollment from K-5 buildings to buildings enrolled by grade level, effective at the start of the 2022-23 school year. This created greater equity and diversity in schools and classrooms.
Amid planning for implementation of that model, the makeup of the Hendrick Hudson board changed considerably over two election cycles. Following these changes, the board began discussions last fall to revamp the newly implemented grade-level enrollment model just months after the initial rollout.
Believing that such an abrupt change was not in the best interests of the district’s students and families, its employees or the community, Hochreiter took a leave of absence at the end of February.
Elmira City School District
As the leader of Elmira’s public schools from 2009-13, Hochreiter led a high-needs small-city school district with more than 7,000 students, 13 buildings and 1,600 employees. He also served as Elmira’s deputy superintendent from 2006-09.
During that time, Elmira’s students achieved continued growth on the state’s ELA and math exams for grades 3-8, and on high school math and ELA Regents exams. Elmira also made steady gains in its four-year graduation rate, and the number of students earning Regents diplomas during his tenure. The New York State Education Department recognized several district schools annually as High Performance/Gap Closing Schools and Rapidly Improving Schools.
“I have had the pleasure of leading two school districts of distinctly different demographics, needs and cultures,” Hochreiter said. “Each experience demanded that I confront significant challenges at various tipping points. In collaboration with all district employees, our board and our community, we worked diligently to solve a significant number of educational and community-specific issues and were always able to keep an eye on short-and long-term needs, hopes and aspirations.”
A focus on career and technical education, hands-on learning
As a key element of his focus on providing engaging and diverse educational opportunities for every student, Hochreiter espouses a particular passion for career and technical education pathways and hands-on learning.
He comes to Albany at a time when the district is focused on expanding CTE opportunities and access. The ongoing Albany High School construction project is incorporating dynamic new CTE learning spaces on the main campus, transferring those programs from the Abrookin Career and Technical Education Center 2½ blocks north of the high school.
Albany High currently offers CTE opportunities in automotive technology, barbering, business, construction technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, human services, health sciences and pre-engineering.
“We want our students to go to college if that is the path they choose, but we also want to provide them with robust opportunities to develop the skills they need if they want to choose to enter the workforce directly after high school graduation,” Smith said. “Our Board of Education loves Mr. Hochreiter’s passion for continuing to enhance our CTE programming.”
Hochreiter, who credits his father’s 33-year career in developing what were then known as vocational-technical programs as an innovator and leader with BOCES in several upstate communities, describes his vision for CTE as “trying to make sure our educational opportunities are not only equitable for all, but relevant for all.”
“I have a real desire to make sure kids feel connected,” he said. “If they are not connected to what we are doing now, then we have that obligation to find what that is and make that connection.”
Hochreiter began his career in education as a social studies and special education teacher in the Greece Central School District outside Rochester. He served as a middle school and high school principal in Dansville from 2003-06 prior to moving to Elmira.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Niagara University, where he also is pursuing a doctorate in leadership and policy. He is a New York-certified administrator with certifications in school district administration, school administration and supervision, inclusion/special education, and elementary education. He also has worked with the International Center for Leadership in Education as a consultant to districts on systemic educational improvements, and as a leadership coach and trainer.
Hochreiter replaces Kaweeda G. Adams, who served as Albany’s superintendent from 2017 until January of this year. John Yagielski has served as the district’s interim superintendent for the past five months.
Hochreiter is looking forward not only to working in Albany, but also to living in New York’s capital city.
“I know that a superintendency is a lifestyle,” he said. “I have enthusiastically embraced this for the last 17 years as a resident of the school districts I have served, and I am looking forward to joining the Albany community. This is critically important to me.”