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.
The comment from Lou Timalot about Muff, “initiating” the title of assistant superintendent is erroneous. When I came to Region One in the early 70’s central office had a supt., asst. supt. and a director of instruction. That structure changed when the position of business manager was added and the director of instruction position was eliminated.
There have been many different positions and titles in Central Office over the years. For instance, in the late 60’s there were only two Central Office administrators – the superintendent and a district supervisor. In the late 60’s the title of administrator of special education came into being and that administrative position eventually became the Director of Pupil Services. Somewhere in the late 70’s the title of assistant superintendent was created – I think perhaps when Ed Kirby came to Central Office in 1979. That may have been when Amanda Berry retired and the title of district supervisor was changed. The position of Director of Instruction was added along the way and done away with along the way. As late as 1996 there was only the superintendent, director of pupil services and the business manager in central office ( at least according to the 1996 yearbook’s listing). Titles have changed many times, but in many cases the title change did not alter the job description. Sometimes the title change did create an upward escalation of salary because of the title, though. There is an interesting history of Central Office. Hopefully more clarity to come.