STATE EDUCATOR CHOSEN TO LEAD ALBANY SCHOOLS ARTHUR ``SAM'' WALTON IS THE DISTRICT'S FIRST SUPERINTENDENT NOT TO RISE UP THROUGH THE RANKS

VINCENT JACKSON Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Wednesday, June 15, 1994

ALBANY The school board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to make Arthur ``Sam'' Walton the district's superintendent, the first African-American to hold the post.


Walton, 46, of Menands, a senior deputy state education commissioner, was awarded a four-year contract, to run from Aug. 15 through Aug. 14, 1998, with a salary of $110,000 the first year. If Walton receives a satisfactory evaluation by the school board after 18 months on the job, he will receive a one-year contract extension, which would make him the superintendent until the start of the 1999-2000 school year.


Walton is the first superintendent to lead the 128-year-old district who did not rise up from within the ranks.


``He brings to the district a wealth of knowledge and experience,'' said school board President Paul Murray in a written statement. ``He has been closely involved in improving the education across the state of New York and worked to develop policies to achieve educational excellence.''


Walton's appointment was a last-minute addition to the school board agenda after the board came out of an executive session, but he was in the audience and received two ovations: one immediately after he was approved for the job, and a second after he briefly addressed the board.


Two days before he accepted the Albany position, Walton declined further consideration as one of two finalists for the Philadelphia schools superintendent position.


``This represents a great opportunity,'' said Walton. ``The reform efforts in this district are consistent with my goals.''


Walton specifically mentioned the school district's magnet schools and prekindergarten programs.


``Before I ended my career, I wanted to work in a district . . . to be closer to the children,'' said Walton, who added that he was one step removed from educating students by being in the state Education Department.


Walton has never been a teacher or a school administrator, but is involved with developing, implementing and monitoring Board of Regents policy and department programs in all 725 public schools in the state.


Walton, who has been with the Education Department since 1979, had worked at Siena College and the University at Albany prior to that. He has lived in the Capital Region for the last 25 years.


Walton will take over from John Bach, who will retire June 30, but Walton said Bach told him he would be available before and during the transition.


``I look forward to a very productive and challenging next four years in the district,'' said Walton, who has seen both of his sons attend Albany schools and graduate from Albany High School. ``I want to make the Albany school district a model (in the state).''