is back at the helm at for a second stint as interim superintendent, and he’s got a full plate already.
For starters, there are some 13 positions that need to be filled before the beginning of the school year on Aug. 31. There are also a few building maintenance issues that need to be fixed and at least one policy issue that need to be ironed out.
That is what Connelly discussed with the Board of Education Tuesday night during his first meeting with the full board since beginning last week. It is the second time in a year that Connelly, the former longtime school chief in large districts such as Bridgeport, has been in Oxford to fill an interim superintendent role; he replaces Edward Malvey, who resigned after just four months citing personal reasons.
Though Connelly says he and other district administrators will have their hands full, he believes Oxford is in a better position than it was at the beginning of last year. That’s when a turnover in the business office caused confusion over how much of a deficit the school district was running in its budget. Now, with new Business Manager Rosemary Hanson overseeing the books, the school board has a much better gauge on how its doing financially.
Still, Oxford is going to have to make some cuts based on the fact that was trimmed from the school board’s original proposed budget after the first plan failed at referendum.
“As you know, we have to make some very, very painful cuts,” Connelly said. “As I work with Rosemary (Hanson) and the staff, these cuts are going to hurt.”
The showing the areas where savings will come from. It is up to Connelly to implement those cuts.
School Board Chairwoman Rose McKinnon said the district will begin this school year the way it ended the last – with a freeze on all non-essential spending.
Other issues facing the district, Connelly said, include the following:
- The school board must come up with a plan about how to implement a new “pay to play” policy for sports and extracurricular activities at Oxford High School.
- Great Oak Middle School needs new fireproofing installed at the school, and officials hope to have it done by the time school starts; the school district has already replaced some tiles on the floor of the cafeteria, which required asbestos removal, caused by a leak in the ceiling that has also been fixed. That will be paid for by the school district’s insurance company, Hanson said.
- The town is trying to get reimbursed for the installation of a new compressor at the Oxford High School pool, the third installed since the school opened. The compressor went out this summer during a power outage; it will cost more than $1,500 to pay for the installation, Hanson said.
- The town needs to hire a special education coordinator, an administrative position.
- The town must also hire a special education teacher, an English teacher at Oxford HS, an English language tutor, a physical education teacher, a math teacher, a school psychologist, an interim director of special education (if necessary), a behavioral consultant, a seventh-grade English/Social Studies teacher, two library media specialists and another English teacher, Connelly said.