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Hartford: Superintendent Search Still On, But With Delays

Vanessa de la Torre

January 03, 2011

The board of education's plan to add members of the community to its superintendent search committee has been delayed by concerns that there were no African Americans among the recommended appointees.

At its final regular meeting last month, the board had expected to vote on appointing Milly Arciniegas, president of the Hartford Parent Organization Council; Parkville Community School Principal Elizabeth Michaelis; Vivian Rivera-Jeffery, the city's 2009 Teacher of the Year; and Phil Waldeck, an executive at Prudential Financial.

They were to join eight board members to form the committee, which will pick a successor to retiring Superintendent Steven Adamowski. When it came time for public comment, however, several audience members criticized the lack of African American representation among the four additional appointees.

The board tabled its decision and is expected to revisit the appointments Jan. 18, school spokesman David Medina said Monday.

Because the makeup of the search committee is in flux, Medina said, the board has pushed back its search timetable. Instead of posting the superintendent's job this week, that is now expected to be done by Jan. 13 or earlier. Internal candidates would have 10 days to apply for the job.

Interviews would then be held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, with a recommendation to the board expected by Feb. 10. The board still plans to appoint a new schools chief at its Feb. 15 meeting, assuming that the appointee is a district employee. Otherwise, a national search would begin.

At a community forum at Bulkeley High School last month, hosted by the education reform group Achieve Hartford!, there seemed to be no frontrunner for the job.

But many of the several dozen people at the forum agreed that the next superintendent should have strong communication skills; a willingness to work with students, parents, employees and the community on reform; and the ability to "build morale and inspire confidence" among teachers and staff as the most important attributes for Adamowski's successor.

Levey Kardulis, 42, a father of four children in the school system, said he wanted a leader who was "extremely familiar with Hartford" and planned to stay in the city for the long term.

"We want someone who is interested in building Hartford," said Kardulis, the head custodian at the Burns Academy of Latino Studies.

But parent Sam Saylor said he believed that the biggest concern should be the school system's projected $28 million budget deficit next fiscal year. The city needs to find a superintendent who is smart about finances and aggressive about finding new funds for the schools, said Saylor, 52, who owns a school uniform business and is a former head of the PTO Presidents' Council.

"Someone has to go against the unions," Saylor said. "We need someone who's not going to shrink under the pressure… Currently, we don't have anybody in-house."

Timothy Sullivan, 45, principal of the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School, was at the community forum and appears to be the only administrator who has publicly announced his intent to apply for the top job.

"I want to have a dialogue, not a monologue. If we're going to close a school, let's talk about why we're doing it … Engage people. Give them ownership" of the reform, Sullivan said.

Sullivan is the son-in-law of board member Elizabeth Brad Noel, who is not on the search committee and is recusing herself from board matters involving the search.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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