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School Board Extends Contract for Interim Superintendent

With the search for a permanent school superintendent so far bearing no fruit, the Board of Education voted to extend the contract of the interim for up to two additional years.

Citing the need for stability in the short term for the Manchester School District, the Board of Education voted Monday evening to extend the contract of interim Superintendent of Schools Richard Kisiel for up to two additional years.

“This evening, given a number of deliberations by the board, the board is not ready to select a candidate for superintendent, but rather move forward with Dr. Kisiel for an extended period of time. At this time, the board is anticipating extending the contract with Dr. Kisiel for an additional up to two years with the goal of finding a permanent superintendent as soon as possible,” Board Chairman Chris Pattacini said.

The search for a permanent superintendent will continue. The initial search yielded 30 inquiries, 17 applicants, and 7 candidates were given interviews. Two candidates were called back for a second interview, but neither was offered the position. Pattaccini said they would be welcome to remain in the running while the search was expanded and more candidates sought.

The board voted by a tally of 6-2 for the extension of the contract of the interim superintendent.

The two members opposed to the extension of the contract said that the board search committee failed to do its job by not identifying an appropriate, permanent superintendent.

Reading a prepared statement for herself and member Jason Scappaticci, member Sarah Walton expressed her displeasure with the result of the search committee.

“It is the responsibility of the board to select a superintendent who is not only capable of developing a long-term vision, but has the ability to guide that vision through its implementation which will take longer than one or two years. As a member of the search committee we feel that we have collectively failed to fulfill our obligation which was entrusted to us by our community,” Walton said.

Walton said that the process was not as transparent as it might have been, and that the decision to proceed with the extension of the interim superintendent represented more than just a failure of the committee.

“The community wants a permanent superintendent to lead the district, continuing with an interim will delay getting a permanent superintendent. The two year appointment of an interim shows a lack of urgency to find a permanent superintendent,” she said.

Walton was quick to laud Kisiel’s dedication and vision, and stated that it was not his performance that led to her and Scappaticci's decision.

Board member Michael Crockett offered disagreed with their views. He claimed the district was in such a delicate state that continuity at the top of the administration was key, and having a proven commodity in Kisiel would best serve the students.

“We would have failed if we hired the wrong person. Try getting rid of a superintendent you don't like after one year. Tell me know how much money it's gonna cost. I know the answer to that. Dr. Kisiel is more than just a seat warmer, he has come in here and made a difference,” he said.

“We've got the right guy at the right time, and I will support him for another two years, and hope that we can get somebody in the next year that will work as hard as Dr. Kisiel,” Crockett continued.

Pattacini reiterated the need for continuity and called the district lucky and blessed to continue to have the services of Kisiel.

“We are at a critical point in education in our community and in this nation. It really is an inflection point, the changes that have occurred at the state level has really created an opportunity and a moment here where reform efforts are going to be critical. I think it's important that we have continuity within the school district to insure that the reform efforts that are being developed are implemented and are successful,” Pattacini said.

In a move signaling his confidence and the board's comfort with Kisiel at the helm, Pattacini added to the next meeting agenda a discussion of the superintendent's goals for the coming year.

Primary on the list is the development of the Alliance Grant plan, with a potential boon of $1.4 million in state grants designated for improvements in many key areas including K-3 literacy, teacher improvement, and a focus on achievement of district goals in line with state and federal standards under revisions to the No Child Left Behind law guidelines.

Editor's note: This story was changed at 10:50 a.m. to correct the incorrect spelling of Interim Superintendent Kisiel's name.

tina bourke July 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I am learning and hearing some excellent things about Dr. Kiesel since my last post. My concern, however, is Walton's statement of the process not being transparent. I wish there were specifics on this. I can understand both arguments too. Transparency would be a concern and given that so many people are out of work, it is hard to understand why it isn't filled when the pool is full of the brightest and the best in the nation? On the other hand, since there are many new opportunities to help the failing schools, and given there is a history of some poor performance, turning this over to someone completely new at this time also doesn't seem like a good idea. I have to say, I am glad we have Dr. Kiesel at this time. Dr. Kiesel, however, please don't forget about Nathan Hale and consider keeping it open it it fits into a good plan for the community?
Polly July 10, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I am so glad they have made the decison to pick the right canidate instead of rushing into a decsion that does not feel right. Mr. Crockett is so right it is harder to get rid of one. I dont agree that the committee failed regarding making a decision if they had made a choice and it was a bad one everyone would remember that. I think this is the first time a decision has not been made foolhardy.Dr Kissel has done a great job, he has thought out of the box and he has been able to make good solid decisions, So thanks and keep up the good work. I didnt get a lot of the big brother references last night, seemed a bit foolish.
Jerry O'Connor July 11, 2012 at 05:16 AM
After years of having Dr. Oulette make all the important decisions for them, it’s easy to understand why the BOE would be having trouble pulling the trigger on a new Superintendent. Fortunately, their incompetence and dysfunctionality won’t have an immediate adverse effect on public education in Manchester since Dr. Kisiel is doing an incredibly strong job running things on an “interim” basis. I love some of the BOE members’ comments – these folks can rationalize anything! Early on they told us how vitally important it was to have a permanent new Superintendent ASAP. They even hired a consultant to help with the process. Then they said they’d have a decision by April or early May. Then in mid-May the BOE Chairman assured us that the search process was moving forward satisfactorily and the timeline was on-track to make an appointment by July 1. Now it’s mid-July and they’re telling us that no decision is their decision, so they’ll extend the “interim” designation for another two years (that means that the “interim” Superintendent could wind up serving longer that the full term of a BOE member!) Plus now they want to “expand the search” and “seek more candidates” according to the BOE Chairman? Good luck with that! Why in the world would a qualified candidate want to waster his or her time with this group of hesitant hacks?
Jerry O'Connor July 11, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Why doesn’t the BOE just hire Dr. Kisiel as the new Superintendent and delete the whole “interim” designation? Oh, wait, that would require a decision. And while Dr. Kisiel is an energetic and seemingly healthy 70-year-old, he might not be willing to wait that long.
Dean July 12, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Dr. Keisel is retired and has no long term plan to stay in Manchester. He is staying here be cause he is kind. A big issue that the board is facing and will face is that they want an experienced ans strong superintendent for $150-160k like Oullette. The going rate is over $180 k for what they want. Alan beitman and joe arardi get that in Burlington and southington.

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