Berlin BOE looks to save through hiring delays

Published on Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:06
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - The Board of Education is holding off on hiring a new high school principal, an assistant superintendent and potentially other positions, due to budget constraints.

School Superintendent David Erwin said Thursday that the board advertised the principal position and received about 20 resumes, but wanted to wait until spring to reopen the search to get a larger pool of applicants.

He said the board interviewed nine of the applicants - mostly from within Connecticut - and they are welcome to reapply.

Francis Kennedy left the job on Nov. 2 for a position with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges - a private, non-profit organization that establishes standards and determines the accreditation status of its member schools.

His salary was $158,385.

In the meantime, former Assistant Principal Barbara Ventura was appointed interim principal and Jeffrey Cronk, social studies department head, was named assistant principal to fill Ventura’s job.

Kyle Kolbig, a social studies teacher, was hired to fill Cronk’s former teaching position through June at a salary for the remainder of the year of $31,000.

The assistant superintendent position, which will be vacated by Brian Benigni on Jan. 3, 2018, when he becomes superintendent, will likely remain vacant until July, said Erwin. Benigni was chosen to be the new superintendent in June.

Erwin said, that given the tough financial climate, the board decided in October to hold off on finding Benigni’s replacement.

Benigni’s current salary is around $175,000, Erwin said.

Erwin said adjustments would be made at the Board of Education central office to accommodate the assistant superintendent vacancy and things would be “fine.”

“It’s not good for the board,” said Erwin on the latest $545,000 additional Education Cost Sharing grant cut the district absorbed as part of a series of cuts Gov. Dannel Malloy announced earlier in the month.

The town initially lost around just over $300,000 in ECS funds when the state legislature first passed the budget, totaling the year to year ECS cut from last year at near $900,000.

While waiting for the town on what it wants to do with the funding shortfall - as the town receives the ECS grant cut before passing it on to the Board of Education - Erwin said the school district is not as optimistic about the financial future as it was when the budget was first passed.

The Board of Finance, in its first meeting on Nov. 21, discussed revising the adopted budget or asking the town and Board of Education to “tighten the belt,” while rejecting a supplemental tax increase to make up for the shortfall.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:06. Updated: Sunday, 3 December 2017 21:09.