BERLIN - Berlin High School Principal Francis Kennedy will no longer hold his position after June 30, 2018.
The Board of Education approved a leave of absence without pay and benefits for Kennedy from Nov. 2 and continuing through June 30, 2018, and accepted his resignation effective June 30, 2018.
Kennedy accepted a new job with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges as associate director of the Commission on Public Schools, he said in an email Wednesday. He is expecting to start in November 2017.
“This is bittersweet for me. I have loved being a part of the Berlin community and most proud to be its high school principal in a district of students, parents, board members, teachers, staff members, and administrators who are extraordinary - and this has made my decision to accept the NEASC’s offer most difficult,” Kennedy said in an email to The Herald. “Nevertheless, the NEASC post is a rare opportunity to contribute to education in a different way than I have over that last few decades. Having been a Committee on Public Schools Commission member for nine years, I have become familiar with the association’s mission and the work of the commission.”
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is a private, non-profit, participatory organization. It establishes standards, guides schools through a self-assessment process, and determines the accreditation status of its member schools through a peer review process, which compares schools to agreed upon measures of quality, said Kennedy.
Kennedy, who came to the district in 2011 was named the Connecticut High School Principal of the year in 2015 and has been principal during the high school’s $84 million renovation project, which was approved the year he join BHS.
“We’re really going to miss him, he’s done a real nice job at the building for the past six years” said Superintendent David Erwin, who explained that the leave of absence is so Kennedy can help with the start of the school year, then transition to his new position and help with finding his replacement.
“We were very happy he was there during the renovation project,” Erwin said. “He provided very high quality leadership when the school was in a state of transition. …We wish him the very best.”
According to Erwin, the job has been posted and the district will be forming a search committee in an attempt to hire someone before or while Kennedy is on his leave of absence.
Board of Education President Matthew Tencza said the district is focusing on starting the school year now and then will concentrate on forming the committee.
“We want it to be the right person. If the right person doesn’t come along we might look into our own ranks as we need someone short term for the rest of the school year and then reopen the search at the end of the school year,” Erwin said.
There are two assistant principals at the school, Kelly Maio and Barbara Ventura. If a permanent replacement isn’t found by Kennedy’s resignation, Erwin said, Maio or Ventura may become a short-term principal, and in such a case, a short-term assistant principal would be hired as a school the size of BHS needs three administrators at a minimum.
Kennedy came from Stafford High School, where he served as principal between 1996 and 2011, and assistant principal two years prior. He began his education career as a Library Media Specialist in Regional School District 15 with Staples and Stafford High Schools, and Memorial Middle School, Middlebury.
“We’re sad to see him go, he’s done a stellar job, especially through the renovation project being able to juggle all the responsibilities,” said Tencza. “We are happy for him and ready to begin looking for the next principal. They will have big shoes to fill.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.