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Interim Superintendent Plans Drastic Reshuffling of High School, Middle School Administrators

The plan would totally change the administrative makeup of Manchester High School, Illing Middle School and Bennet Academy.

A proposal unveiled by Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel during Monday night's Board of Education meeting would bring sweeping changes to the administration at Arthur H. Illing Middle School and . The move comes in conjunction with plan to restructure the administrative staff at proposed earlier this month by new Manchester High School Principal Matthew Geary. 

Kisiel said the changes are intended to refocus administrative responsibilities at the town's sixth-grade academy, middle school and high school squarely on teaching and learning. 

"These assignments of personnel are in response to needed improvements in teaching and learning, improvements in school climate and culture and vaccines created by administrative retirements and resignations," Kisiel said. 

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Under the reconfiguration plan, Illing would see an entirely new leadership staff, with becoming the new principal at Illing; Ann Fuini, an assistant principal at Bennet Academy, will accompany Welch to become an assistant principal at Illing; and Keith Martin, now an assistant principal at Manchester High School, will become an assistant principal at Illing. 

Current Illing Principal will be transferred to the central office, where he will become the Associate Director of Teaching and Learning; Illing Assistant Principal Cathy Robinson will become an assistant principal at Bennet Academy; and Illing Assistant Principal Iris Gomero will be moved to Manchester High School, where she will take on the role of an assistant principal. 

The current associate director of teaching and learning, Diane Sheehan-Burns, will become the new principal at Highland Park Elementary School when it reopens in the fall, replacing Kathleen England, who is resigning to accept an assistant superintendent position in another district. 

The restructuring still leaves five vacant administrative positions within the Manchester Public Schools system: principal of Keeney Street School, principal of Bennet Academy, an assistant principal at Manchester High, the newly created position of dean of students at Manchester High and an assistant principal position at Washington Elementary School. 

"Essentially when you look at the administrative structure in grades 6 through 12, it's entirely changed," Kisiel said. "I think at this point for Manchester Public Schools this would be an important step forward for bringing new, revitalized energy to our schools." 

In other actions Monday, the Board of Education unanimously voted to end Kisiel's contract an additional 90 days to allow it more time to find a permanent replacement. 

"Under state law, we are required to have a Superintendent past July 1," Pattacini said. "This is a procedural decision by the board." 

The school board also unanimously voted to amend its bylaws and approve a code of conduct for board members that outlines unacceptable behavior and the potential consequences for school board members. The code of conduct is largely the result of the actions of , a Republican member of the school board, who caused controversy earlier this year when she sent a series of unwanted emails and Facebook messages to Kelly Luxenberg, a Democratic member of the school board. When the Board of Education reviewed its policies earlier this year to see if it was possible to discipline or censure Kidd, they were that no such disciplinary provisions for Board of Education members existed under the school board's current bylaws. 

The Board of Education, including Kidd, unanimously approved the code of conduct without any comments or debate. 

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Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Cathy Robinson was to be moved to the position of assistant principal at Manchester High School. 

Scott Aiken June 26, 2012 at 10:48 AM
"These assignments of personnel are in response to needed improvements in teaching and learning, improvements in school climate and culture and [vacancies] created by administrative retirements and resignations," - This is a rather vague answer to the question: why such a major reshuffling of the deck? I hope there is some more in-depth reasons in the BOE meeting minutes. I'm also curious as to why an elementary school needs an assistant principle, and from what I have heard, only a part time position at that?
Dean June 26, 2012 at 12:05 PM
During the meeting last night, the superintendent said Cathy Robinson would be going to Bennett, not the high school.*
David Moran (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Hi Scott, Part of the reason the superintendent cited for the change last night was to also meet some of the criteria for the governor's new education reform proposal. And yes you are correct the assistant principal for the elementary school is a part-time position.
tina bourke June 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM
It doesn't really address how the focus will shift to teaching and learning specifically with the same people, just in different locations? The same people with the same old ideas, etc., just in different locations. Changing the same people around, really isn't change, is it? If so, it doesn't really explain how and why this will effect teaching and learning. I think it may have more to do with attitude towards embracing real change. I read a post from a f/b friend I never met in person who grew up here in town and has since moved away. In one of her comments she wrote something like this; if you don't go along with the same old, ideas and politics in town, you will get pummeled. I didn't get that at first but in some ways I have experienced it. I hope we are open to real and open change for the better!
Jodi Kissmann Huyler June 26, 2012 at 01:56 PM
If Principal Welch is reassigned to lead Illing, who will be assigned to lead Bennett? Mr Welch is an outstanding leader and the type of person we are lucky to have in Manchester. From the day I met him, heard him speak to parents and students I've never doubted that Bennett would be the best place for my son. He is going to Bennett this fall so I'm hoping for a great start to his year. This article comes as a surprise but I'm hoping for a positive outcome. Although I don't want to see Mr Welch leave Bennett, he is hands down the needed change for Illing. He is one of he best leaders that Manchester has ever seen, and we have amazing teachers in this town! He will no doubt get that school in line and above standard, where it should be quickly. However, we have BIG shoes to fill if he's reassigned. We need someone equally as smart, energetic, passionate and all the kids, to take over the reigns at Bennett. Let's do this right BOE! This is a huge foundational year for our 6th graders (11 year olds) and their families. Thank you for your hardwork and dedication to our students. Best, Jodi Kissmann Huyler
tina bourke June 26, 2012 at 02:04 PM
If I can help, for example; I can only contrast a good teacher by all the bad ones I have had in Manchester. Mrs. Norko at Manchester High School in '77 would make the literature we had to read come alive and it was so inspiring to read and discuss in class. She gave a lot of praise and didn't see anything else except the student and she cultivated your interests. She made the classroom safe for discussing and reading reports in front of the class with her praise, encouragement and being non judgmental!
David Moran (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Jodi, the position of principal at Bennet Academy is one of the positions that Superintendent Kisiel said last night they are still looking to fill.
Anne Miller June 26, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Thank you Dr. Kisiel, Changing people around where they will do the most good because of their abilities. Listening to the teachers, staff, parents, the community & thinking of the children & their education as a top priority.. David Welch has done a superb job at Bennet Academy and the children at Illing are most fortunate to have him as their principal. Now if we could keep you Dr. Kisiel or clone you for the job you are doing, Manchester would be a pefect Educational community.
salk June 26, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Do we know what we are trying to accomplish with this reshuffling of administration or are we just hoping that something good will happen as a result of this. Although I did not have a child who attended Bennet, I did hear only the best about Mr Welch and Bennet. So Illing will be fortunate to have his leadership. I know the town has been ranked low and needs improving, the reason why Gov Malloy is giving our town $$$ to improve. I hope this is the 1st step of great happening for all of Manchester schools. Raising 4 children through the Manchester school system, I have nothing but praise for the schools, teachers and administrators. I agree that we should clone Dr. Kisiel or find his twin! One thing that we have to remember as a community, that parent involvement is essential if we are to accomplish anything really positive. Without that common element, we are fighting a hard battle! Manchester students have a lot to offer, we just need to keep the positive in the papers!!!
Jackie Madore June 26, 2012 at 06:28 PM
He did say that Cathy Robinson would be going to Bennet as an assistant principal.
Jackie Madore June 26, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Scott, usually the reasoning behind having an assistant principal at an elementary school is because of the number of students. I'm not sure of the number but I know when the 6th graders moved to the elementary schools years ago, Bowers and Buckley shared an assistant principal due to the number of enrolled kids. I want to say it's 400 but not 100 percent sure.
tina bourke June 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
@Salt, I have the same question you do. Thank you for articulating it for me better. I think your right, it appears to be guesswork?
tina bourke June 26, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I think pointing fingers at each other isn't working either. The bill takes into account students with additional barriers to learning and includes additional supports such as wrap around services. It appears the governor is giving a lot of autonomy to the lowest performing towns B.O.E., for proposing a strategy in his pilot program. I pray we take full advantage of this and include the interventions needed to succeed for the student.
James Bond June 26, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I think one needs to read between the lines on these changes. It's not guess work if you have a plan.That plan is and was to move some people to positions where they'll be on a short rope and others so they can envoke the changes we so desperately need. Stay tuned,some of these changes are door ways out of the system.
Concerned mom June 26, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I applaud the changes. Having had 3 kids go through Bennet under mr welch and mrs fuini I can't wait for them to get to illing. Dr Monroe is a great guy he try's very hard but illing is like a rest stop. Teachers don't seem to respect him. Jim Farrell really backed him up and there was some positive movement. Illing needs a shot in the arm hopefully teachers will get behind the new team.
David Moran (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 08:57 PM
So then is Iris Gomero going to Bennet?
Concerned mom June 26, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Iris to the high school . She will be good with some of the wild girls at mhd
tina bourke June 26, 2012 at 10:30 PM
"Keep the positive in the papers?" This is not about selling houses or selling Manchester, this is about not selling out on the children! And, lets get to the plan, what is it?
topher June 27, 2012 at 12:42 AM
lets send mike simmond from verplank to bennet.He was awesome at illing remember. what a trio of principal s the town would have to boost scores!!!!!1
Greg June 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Kate England is a huge loss she will be missed.
David McHugh June 27, 2012 at 02:03 PM
It's long overdue. In Dr. Kisiel's short stay here he has been able to sift through the wreckage and still be a presence in the schools and at after hour school functions, unlike his predecessor. Thank you Dr. Kisiel
Kristine Blake June 30, 2012 at 03:37 PM
We were forced to leave Manchester School system (2004) because they got rid of all the gifted and talented programs when our son was done at Bowers. He went onto Hartford Middle Magnet school, and then to the UNIVERSITY HIGH MAGNET of SCIENCE & ENGINEERING.(100% graduation rate and 100% go onto college) He going to be a senior this year in this ALL HONORS high school, on the campus of University of Hartford. Why are MARTIN & HIGHLAND park the ONLY "HOT SCHOOLS", in Manchester? Not fair to give everything to the richest areas of town and then have a whole class share (2) computers. Sorry but this was discussed recently at the Capitol with Geoff Luxumberg....he knows the smartest kids are leaving Manchester, because their is no challenge. Our son is taking UCONN English and took AP biology as a sophomore. Bowers wanted to put him on STRATERA because he "talked to much". He finish his work so fast because he was not being challenged. Now that he is @ the UNIVERSITY HIGH MAGNET, we are contacted by phone, email and regular mail, from colleges who want him to apply. W.P.I., N.Y.U., B.C., to name a few. Manchester needs to step up and get this fixed. We are not the only family that left.
Daune June 30, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Jodi, As sorry as I feel for Bennett to lose such a wonderful principal I am also just as elated to hear that manchester students will have him for more than a year which in the long run when students get him in 7th & 8th grade they will be very lucky to have him for more that 1 year!!! If this whole thing is true my son just ran around the house knowing he would get Mr Welch again!!!! He starts 8th grade in the fall!!!

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