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Questions Arise Over Superintendent Hiring Process

Following the nomination of now-hired Interim Superintendent Ernest Perlini, some board of education members expressed frustrations with the lack of transparency during his vetting process.

Dr. Ernest Perlini's hiring as Windsor's interim superintendent was approved by a unanimous board of education vote earlier this month; however, Perlini's hiring was not approved without concern expressed by board members.

In particular, Board of Education Secretary Doreen Richardson and board member Lucille Brown expressed some frustration with the process of hiring Perlini and the nature of the search for a full-time superintendent.

“We as a board haven’t discussed what we want from an interim and eventually a permanent superintendent,” said Brown during the board's special meeting to approve Perlini's nomination.

Richardson expounded on Brown's statement, saying "If we as a board do not articulate our expectations, I see problems down the road.”

In large part, the cause for the board's inability to express expectations was due to the closed-door nature of Perlini's hiring, and the short period of time in which his hiring was approved.

Current Superintendent Elizabeth Feser will be leaving to assume the same role in Milford on April 4. The board and Dr. Feser hoped to have an interim in place well before her departure to allow ample time for collaboration in the months leading up to April 4, creating a smooth transition of leadership.

According to the director of human resources for Windsor Public Schools, Dr. Craig Cooke, the search for an interim was largely conducted by himself and the president of the board of education, Dr. Milo "Rusty" Peck.

Both Peck and Cooke expressed difficulties unique to Perlini's hiring — namely the fact that most qualified individuals are either currently employed as a superintendent or were unwilling to take on the district's plan to consolidate schools and the implementation of plans associated with a partnership with the State Department of Education. It was also difficult to find someone willing to serve as an interim for up to one year, Cooke said.

According to Cooke, the timing and district plans left a "limited pool of candidates," despite their contacting "numerous people." However, Cooke said in a recent phone interview that he and Peck are confident that they got the best man for the job.

Cooke sited Perlini's 16 years of superintendent experience in one district (Newington), something he called "rare." He also noted that Perlini oversaw a school consolidation and reorganization similar to the one Windsor is planning on implementing by the 2012 scholastic year.

While Perlini's experience was praised by board members, and was the essential factor in producing a unanimous vote of approval, the concern regarding an inclusive search for a full-time superintendent is strong.

Board member Howard Jubrey stressed the temporary nature of Perlini's employment in Windsor and said "I'm more concerned about moving forward."

Moving forward, Cooke said that the board will have a "much larger role" in the hiring process. The board has already begun the process of selecting a professional agency to assist in the search for and fielding of applications. Brown called the process "trying," and expressed her hope that the search for an agency and superintendent would extend beyond Connecticut, citing Connecticut's ownership of the largest achievement gap in the nation.

The board has also been charged with serving as a "personnel search committee," said Cooke. Their job, in addition to finding a professional agency, will be to vet candidates for the full-time superintendent position.

 

 

Malvi Lennon March 14, 2011 at 02:13 PM
I would like to know more details about the process that was used to "recruit" Dr. Perlini. How did Dr. Cooke, and Dr. Peck come upon the names of whom they would tap for the job. Some people have said the selection process was complicated because superintendents need special certifications however, I believe CGS say that someone serving as an "interim" superintendent is not subject to the same certification requirements. I have been critical of the BOE unanimous vote on Perlini since it was announced. I have taken much flack for speaking out against the BOE decision. However, I have a problem with the vote on various levels. In my opinion, the apparent “secrecy” of the selection process calls into question the process itself. In addition, there is the 45% rule. Perlini will work full time so clearly the BOE has to come up with a way to circumvent the rule. This may well be legal but is it ethical? The message sent appears to be that rules are meant to be broken provided we can find a legal way to do so. From my perspective, this whole issue stinks from beginning to end.
tchjjal March 15, 2011 at 12:39 AM
He's only getting $189,000 for 9 months...give him a break!
Malvi Lennon March 15, 2011 at 01:00 AM
I hope you are being sarcastic. By the way, he is not making 189K. In fact, the most he could make is what Feser made which is $183K. However as a retiree collecting a pension from Newington based on the 45% rule as an "employee" in Windsor he could only make $82.350.00. Therefore, to pay him more the BOE has to come up with a way to circumvent the rule classifying him something other than an "employee" for example a "consultant". Dr Perlini has played this game in the past. In fact, he did it in Newington where he retired, and came right back to work as a "consultant" collecting a pension and a fee from Newington taxpayers. Give Dr Perlini, a break? There is no reason for me to do so. Particularly since the BOE is not interested in giving my pocketbook a break. These are times of record deficits. We should be looking for ways to cut spending not for ways in which we can help pad bureaucrats’ pockets. Do not forget Windsor school district cut funding in science and library to save money. Should they not be as eager to “save” when it comes to salaries? Who is more important the kids or the bureaucrat?
tchjjal March 15, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Yes, I was being sarcastic. I was referring to his salary listed on the March 3rd article which stated his salary at $183,000...I was off by $6,000. At that price, $6,000 is "chump" change. I believe the public schools should be eliminated altogether. There is no incentive for anyone to raise the bar on standards for the teachers or children. There is no accountablility to keep budgets in check. SAT's have been dumbed down....scores keep dropping. Private schools have been in the paper recently and they have all outscored the public schools in all areas. We are being charged at least $15,0000 per student to send them to public schools. That does not include the pensions, etc..... For that kind of money, people can pick where they want to send their children to school... The town would be better off giving vouchers to each family. When enrollment goes down, less money goes out. Our enrollment in the Windsor schools is down...but the budget goes up! Windsor is an aging town....people can't afford to keep getting "socked" with increases in taxes. And with this economy, most people haven't had a raise in many years except for the public sector. I'm all for what's going down in Wisconsin, Ohio, etc. with the unions. They are so powerful in our town. It's sad.....
Malvi Lennon March 17, 2011 at 12:41 PM
What I do not understand is if school population keeps DECREASING why the school budget keeps INCREASING? I guess Perlini is a good example of why the increases. Windsor can use a Citizens Audit Committee a watchdog over the school, the BOE and the Town. There is no transparency in the books, any detailed accounting or breakdown of categories. It is excessively easy to hide waste. As to pay increases frankly, I believe pay should be tied to performance and looking at the numbers some teachers in Windsor owes taxpayers a refund. If this is not enough the new bill pending A Department of Early Education and Child Development (which many teachers think is wonderful) gives the go ahead for SEIU to unionize home-based child care providers (like the neighbor), who receive money from Care 4 Kids. Yeah is lumped into the bill. I have said it before and I will say it again until Windsor residents ORGANIZE ( without regard to political party) and begin to look over the shoulders of the boards and commissions charged to be the purse keepers spending will be out of control and taxes will continue to rise.

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