The Jamestown school board has appointed Tim Mains - a longtime educator, politician, LGBT activist - as superintendent of that city’s public schools. Jamestown’s gain is a loss for Rochester. He’ll oversee a much smaller school district than Rochester’s, and one that isn’t facing nearly the same level of difficulties.
But the move could be good for Mains, who has made no secret about his interest in being a superintendent. Extremely bright, ambitious, and hard-working, Mains has been an admirable public servant. And I’m betting he’ll be missed.
Mains was a longtime teacher in the Greece and Rochester school systems, and a former principal at School 50. His most recent position was in administration in the district’s central office working for Superintendent Bolgen Vargas.
Mains could be counted on for a lively and informative interview. He was a staunch advocate for the district’s students and parents, and he could sometimes be a sharp critic of the district. In past interviews with City, Mains said some of the district’s biggest challenges had to do with a lack of long-term strategic planning and effective management. He had little tolerance for blaming the teachers union when ineffective teachers were allowed to keep their jobs, saying it was up to the principals supervising them to either help them improve or terminate them.
But Mains’ contribution to Rochester goes beyond public education. Mains, a Democrat, served on City Council, chairing the finance committee for 12 years. In 2005, he made an unsuccessful run for mayor.
Rochester’s LGBT community also owes a debt of gratitude to Mains for his many years of activism. He is a former board member of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley and a former editor of the Empty Closet, the longest consistently running LGBT community newspaper in the US.
And in 1986, Mains became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in New York; he servedon City Council until 2005.
Mains and his spouse are house-hunting in Jamestown. He starts his new job in August.