BY RUTH ESPTEIN
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FALLS VILLAGE — Residents of Region 1 told a search consultant they want these qualities in their next assistant superintendent: quality classroom teaching experience; comprehension of the student learning process; strong ability to work with principals; a promoter of the positive aspects of Housatonic Valley Regional High School and a high level of emotional intelligence.
Mary Broderick of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education on Wednesday held one of several sessions to gather input from residents. The region is looking for a replacement for former Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves, who took an early retirement package effective Oct. 31, 2014.
There has been no firm determination yet as to whether another assistant superintendent or a director of instruction will be hired.
Ed Kirby, a former teacher, high school principal and assistant superintendent in the district, listed the suggested roles he saw for both the superintendent’s and assistant’s position, noting the complexity of Region 1. It has a huge geographic area, is regionalized only at the high school level; and has six autonomous elementary schools that share services with the high school. Kirby said he strongly believes a national search should be conducted and that the candidate’s school district must be visited. He also told Broderick that the new administrator must take a serious look at declining enrollment — in the 1970s there were 780 students at Housatonic; now there are fewer than 400. He or she also must work with the state legislature on seeking relief from unfunded mandates and get a grasp of the area and its history, Kirby said.
Louis G. Timolat of Falls Village said when Marvin “Muff” Maskovsky was superintendent, he initiated the title of assistant superintendent, but it was honorific. He said he wasn’t looking for a deputy superintendent, but the name gave prestige to recruiting a director of instruction. That position is very important and should not be diluted with other functions, he said.
Marshall Miles of Salisbury said he believes teachers are the strength of the district and that one of the weaknesses in the system “is the seemingly nonlink between administrators and teachers.” He also said Housatonic is losing many students to private schools and that declining enrollment must be addressed.
“How is this building going to pay for itself when it’s down to 300 students? That is not being discussed. How do we get students back?” Miles asked.
Falls Village First Selectman Patricia A. Mechare also touched on the need for promoting Housatonic. She said the programs, especially in the humanities track, are just as good as those found in the private schools. Others talked about the need for the person to have a high level of emotional intelligence, empathy, the ability to manage relationships, be trustworthy, honest and have a sense of humor.