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Hartford Public Library CEO Named City School Board Chairman

By VANESSA DE LA TORRE

February 08, 2012

HARTFORD Matthew Poland, CEO of the Hartford Public Library, has been appointed chairman of the city's board of education.

Poland worked with the school system last year to relocate the city's Twain library branch to Hartford Public High School. On Tuesday night, he stood in that space the school's Lewis Fox Media Center as one of five new board appointees to take their oath of office.

The nine-member board, which now includes Mayor Pedro Segarra, then voted unanimously to make Poland its chairman.

Elected board member Lori Hudson was voted first vice chairwoman, while Segarra appointee Cherita McIntye was named second vice chairwoman during the special meeting. Robert Cotto Jr. of the Working Families Party was voted secretary.

The new four-year members, who were confirmed by the city council last week, are the mayor himself; Poland; McIntye, a director of executive learning and development at ESPN; lawyer Richard Wareing, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter; and Jose Colon-Rivas, a former Hartford High principal who is currently the city's director of families, children, youth and recreation.

Poland said Wednesday that he plans to approach his role as board chairman with the same traits he has developed as an executive. Aside from leading the city library since 2009, Poland's resume includes time at the Courant as vice president of human resources.

Transparent communication, meeting deadlines and "following the money" are crucial, he said. With the school budget, the board should be "able to talk about it in a way that's easy for people to understand, so it's not nuanced... If someone asks you a question, you should be able to explain it."

And generally, never "sleep on bad news," Poland added. "If something goes wrong, it doesn't get better in the morning. So it's best to deal with it right away."

On Tuesday, parent Shonta Browdy told the board she worried that its new majority could upend the reform efforts under Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. The five appointees join Hudson, Cotto and two other elected members whose terms expire in 2013: Luis Rodriguez-Davila and Elizabeth Brad Noel.

"Hartford has a habit of starting all over again," said Browdy, a vice president of the Hartford Parent Organization Council whose oldest daughter attends the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy. "We are nervous that the reform as we know it, and the goals we have set forth, are in jeopardy."

After the meeting, Segarra tried to assure Browdy that he is "committed to reform," although it "doesn't mean we're going to agree on everything."

Among the first issues that new board members may have to contemplate is whether to approve a proposed contract with Manchester Community College to operate Great Path Academy, an interdistrict magnet high school on the college's campus. The board's next regular meeting is Feb. 21.

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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