With only a few days until July 1, presumably the day that Christina Kishimoto will take over as the city's new superintendent of schools, she has no contract with the board of education.
Board Chairman David MacDonald said Monday that he has been working on the agreement with Kishimoto and the delay has come down to "just the last couple of items." He would not elaborate.
Kishimoto has been in negotiations with MacDonald for the past few months, since the board appointed her on March 2 to succeed retiring Superintendent Steven Adamowski.
That resolution called for a contract of no more than three years - a stipulation under state law - and authorized MacDonald to negotiate all the details with Kishimoto on the board's behalf. The city's corporation counsel has assisted in the negotiations.
For weeks, MacDonald has said that the contract is forthcoming.
And last week, at the board's final regular meeting of the school year, he reiterated that Kishimoto will be superintendent effective July 1, with Adamowski serving as a "special adviser" through July 30.
Moments earlier, Adamowski had said that Kishimoto has already "exhibited leadership" as the school system looks to a "seamless transition."
But on Monday, through school spokesman David Medina, Kishimoto canceled an interview with The Courant scheduled for Tuesday to talk about her goals for the coming year. Kishimoto cited the lack of a contract and declined further comment.
Medina said Adamowski was out of town Monday, and "the feeling here is that it would be inappropriate for anyone to comment at this time."
Reached later in the day, MacDonald said, "I kind of thought things would be done by now - that was my expectation." But, he added, "it's not always surprising that in these situations, the little things can trip you up sometimes."
MacDonald said his intent is to have the contract finished by Friday.
Even before the board appointed Kishimoto with a 6-2 vote and one abstention, the buildup had been marked by angst and infighting. The board had originally scheduled its vote for Feb. 22 - until Mayor Pedro Segarra convened a press conference three hours before the board's special meeting to call for a national superintendent search.
Segarra had criticized the selection process, in part because there were only two candidates. The 13-person selection panel, which included community members and eight of the board's nine members, interviewed Kishimoto and one other internal candidate, Tim Sullivan, principal of the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School.
Segarra and other critics said there was a perception within the city that Kishimoto was Adamowski's handpicked successor. MacDonald denied that claim and pointed to a succession policy that the board approved in October that stated the board would launch a national search only if no "qualified" candidate could be found within the school system.
Kishimoto is the assistant superintendent of secondary schools and has worked closely with Adamowski on Hartford's school reform.
On Monday, Segarra gave no indication of any lingering hard feelings.
"We've been to fundraisers together. I intend to be the best partner in moving our educational agenda forward and being a partner with the superintendent," Segarra said of Kishimoto.
"With issues of contract," he said, "the board needs to work with her and corporation counsel to make that happen."
Kishimoto's current base salary is $163,000 as an assistant superintendent, according to the school system. Adamowski makes $225,000.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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