Superintendents on the Move as Revamped Education Funding is on State's Agenda

With a major overhaul of education funding to Connecticut communities on the state legislature's agenda when the newly elected legislature convenes in January in order to comply with a court order, some of the state’s largest school districts are undergoing seismic changes of their own, as superintendents are moving at what appears to be an unprecedented rate in the midst of a school year. Torrington selected a new superintendent just a week ago, even as vacancies were imminent or in place in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, and a new Stamford superintendent is just settling in.superintendent2

Denise Clemons was appointed as the new superintendent of the Torrington public schools, returning to Connecticut after serving as superintendent in Gardner, MA. Previously she was assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in Groton, MA; the assistant superintendent of secondary education in Bridgeport; and an English teacher in New Haven.

“I hope to kind of bridge the gap between the community and the schools — kind of open it up. I think that we need to work together, and with that, we’ll be better,” Clemons told the Torrington Register- Citizen. “I’m glad to be here because I think that this is a great community, and I think it’s ready for change, and I’m ready to change with them.”

In Bridgeport, the city school board will soon be identifying someone already working in the district, who holds a superintendent certificate and preferably a doctorate degree, to take over for the current interim superintendent until a permanent replacement can be hired next year, the CT Post is reporting.  Fewer than a handful of current district leaders hold the superintendent certification according to the State Department of Education. They include Career and Craftsmanship principal Wayne Alexander, who was a finalist this fall for the interim superintendent position in New Haven.  Applicants in Bridgeport have until November 28 to apply and will be interviewed the first week in December. The board hopes to have made a selection before current Interim Schools Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz leaves on December 30, 2016.

New Haven Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries announced at the end of September that he would be leaving that post in November, after three years in that position, and more than a year before the end of his contract.  A buyout was worked out, reportedly due to clashing priorities and personalities inthe district.  Last month, the Board appointed Reginald Mayo, the longtime superintendent of New Haven Public Schools and the immediate predecessor to departing superintendent Harries, as the school district’s interim superintendent. Mayo worked in the district’s schools for 46 years, 21 of them as superintendent.  A search committee in New Haven has begun work to select a new superintendent, the New Haven Register has reportedglass

Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, the superintendent of Hartford public schools, announced in early September that she is stepping down to take a job with the United States Department of Defense Schools in Okinawa, Japan. She will be the Chief of Instructional Leadership Development with the United States Department of Defense Schools, which is a newly-created position.  The announcement came just weeks into the new school year, and years before her contract was due to expire.  She leaves the district on Dec. 8.  An interim superintendent is expected to be named shortly, the Hartford Courant has reported.

Stamford began the year with an interim Superintendent, James Connelly, who began his stewardship of the district in January.  Earl Kim, a Hawaii native, became Superintendent of Stamford Public Schools in July 2016, after his appointment by the Board of Education in March. Prior to arriving in Stamford, Kim served as Head of School, Kamehameha Schools – Kapālama, and prior to that as Superintendent of Schools in Montgomery Township New Jersey from 2008 to 2012, and in Verona Township New Jersey from 2003 to 2008, according to the district’s website.

Connecticut’s major urban communities are not the only districts seeing superintendent transitions.

The town of Killingly saw its superintendent depart in July, and in September the local board chose Lynne Pierson, most recently the interim superintendent for the Darien school system, to oversee the Killingly district, beginning Oct. 1. She is expected to serve through March 1, or until a new superintendent is chosen, the Norwich Bulletin reported.

And Dr. Toni Jones was appointed the new superintendent of Fairfield Public Schools by the local Board of Education in September.  Jones, who has been serving as the superintendent in the Falls Church City school district in Virginia, will begin serving in her new role in Fairfield on Dec. 5.