Hannibal’s New Superintendent Sees Opportunities in District’s Challenges

Donna J. Fountain, incoming Superintendent of Schools in Hannibal.
Donna J. Fountain, incoming Superintendent of Schools in Hannibal.

Hannibal’s next Superintendent of Schools says she can’t wait to get to her new job.

Donna Fountain was named to the job in March, a year after the Board of Education rejected a contract extension for then-Superintendent Mike DiFabio.  He left at the end of the school year.  Pete Backus has run the district on an interim basis this school year.

She will earn $136,000.

Since her appointment, she has made the drive from Cazenovia, where she works now, or from her home in suburban Syracuse, to Hannibal to sit in on public meetings and begin learning how things work in one of the state’s poorest school districts.

“Where you have great challenges, you have great opportunity,” Fountain said.

Hannibal’s challenges are what attracted her to the job, she said.

“I’ve heard a lot about the poverty and the educational issues and the things that are going on in the community,” she said. “But the other thing I’ve heard is that people here have so much heart and so much pride in their district.

“They’re still persevering, they’re not giving up, and that’s a district I want to work in.”

Fountain comes to Hannibal from Cazenovia, where she’s assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction and special programs.  She’s been there for two years, following a stint as principal of Smith Road Elementary School in the North Syracuse district.

She will not be moving into the Hannibal district.

She takes over on July 1 and says, “i’m anxious to get going because I have a lot of ideas.”

Fountain acknowledges she was warned that “there’s an issue of trust in the district…search consultants told us it was a major issue.”

She’s okay with that pressure.  “That’s okay. They just want for their kids, they want those opportunities for their children and they don’t want to pay more taxes because they can’t afford it.”

Fountain said she will try to listen to people and to be transparent about her plans and ideas

“i’m anxious to get going because I have a lot of ideas,” she said.