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Interim School Chief Spells Out Concerns

Connelly tells the school board what must be done before the beginning of school.

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.
Jennifer August 10, 2011 at 01:46 PM
"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 revealed to the Board of Education..." Why would he need to "reveal" this to the BOE. Shouldn't they already KNOW? How is it that we are three weeks from the start of school, and these hiring haven't been made and other items taken care of? And there's no "pay-to-play" policy yet? Practices will be starting shortly, if they haven't already. I thought this was a "hands on," "get things done" BOE?
Paul Singley August 10, 2011 at 02:25 PM
I suppose saying reveal was probably the wrong choice of words; the school board knew they had vacancies, though some did seem surprised there were so many. But I will take the blame for that inaccuracy, and will attempt to edit it though we've had some trouble recently with our computer editing system. Thanks
Paul Singley August 10, 2011 at 02:28 PM
I have changed the word "revealed" to "discussed with," FYI. Thanks
Jennifer August 10, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Thanks Paul. That makes me feel a little better. Though I am still concerned that we're trying to find people to fill those spots just three weeks out of the start of school.
Angelina C August 10, 2011 at 04:12 PM
I just hope given the lightning speed that this BOE leadership is driving people out, that they at least have the common sense to bring the new people in at lower salaries. With all the unemployed new graduate teachers out there, there is to be an abundance of applicants grateful to get a job. What a novel concept budget savings in salaries and benefits. Maybe there won't be another deficit this year.
xxxoxox August 11, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Let's not forget the need to hire yet another superintendent. Hopefully we can find someone to take the job after the last two occupants were either run out of town or quickly found the door after being given the McKinnon treatment. We seem to continue to replace the wrong leadership. Fortunately, Oxford voters can place several members of the current board on their agenda in November and fix what has been so wrong for too long in town.
Lynn August 11, 2011 at 11:10 AM
You get what you pay for. You pay for inexperienced teachers, you get less adept teachers who can instruct and create a safe community of learners.
Rachael R August 11, 2011 at 11:31 AM
Stephen C Brown: I find it telling that you refused to answer an education question posed to you on this blog, yet took the opportunity to make nasty comments and assertions about the present BOE and Mrs. McKInnon. If you know that these people were forced out, or given poor treatment, do tell, but don't resort to gossip an innuendo.The town is growing weary of grown men and women acting in this unbecoming manner.
xxxoxox August 11, 2011 at 11:55 AM
Fortunately the professionals involved in these situations have had the good grace to not air their grievances publicly so of course all we have are comments made privately and then repeated. However, most folks in town so not believe that these folks left for the reasons they professed publicly. Dr. Palmer was treated shabbily and her performance attacked by repub surrogates like Mr Spreuck. Who would have stayed around under the cloud of created uncertainty. Now, Dr Malvey abruptly leaves for personal reasons? Word on the street is that problems with board leadership hastened his departure. Folks who have attended a board meeting have also witnessed the tone and leadership style that has become the problem. Its not nasty to express this as an issue - particularly when personality and style appear to have become factors in how our ed board functions or fails to function.
Rachael R August 11, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Stephen C Brown: "Fortunately the professionals involved in theses situations have had the good grace not to air their grievances publicly...". How kind of you to have taken it upon yourself to air it for them. BTW Dr. Palmer is working closer to home, and making an even higher salary...maybe she would have stayed here despite that if she was treated nicer? Is that your contention? Dr. Malvey after reconsidering a six hour a day commute five days a week, would have changed his mind if he liked the tone ? Seems like from the articles in the paper,( although no ones has whispered in my ear in private) the retirements are after 35-42 yrs. Are you suggesting that they would stay longer if...? Get a real platform and stick to it. I don't know how tall you are from your picture, but no one is so short in stature that they should stoop to this level. If nothing else it demeans you.
xxxoxox August 11, 2011 at 01:43 PM
I too wondered about Dr. Malvey's commute, his career situation, etc when he was hired. The Repubs cheered this hire az some great accomplishment and coat saving to boot. Now were stuck, spending more on yet another search and have a less than attractive environment to search in. Either way, the board leadership owns this problem as you have just argued. As for the game, Im not really all that interested in the "who's nasty" back and forth. However, in this process, I will always let folks know who I am and own my comments. You already know who I am, know my face. Im not a surrogate and I don't say what I say behind initials or pseudonym.
Rachael R August 11, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Stephen C. Brown: If you haven't noticed most people use initials, and do not post pictures. Sorry we aren't all so photogenic, yet I wouldn't continue to alienate the voters if you want that coveted BOE seat.
Ed Spruck August 11, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Mr. Brown, regarding the former Superintendent I asked repeatedly what accomplishments warranted her many ‘excellent” reviews. No one ever responded. Why? I don’t believe that was nasty or an attack, just a request for facts. Regarding the recent past Superintendent, he seemed to have been out of the district a lot and in 5 months didn’t accomplished anything. To me that says he had other distractions on his mind. That would support his statement of personal issues that needed attention. His lack of action on filling vacancies says the same thing. Perhaps once he submitted his resignation he lost interest. However, as a professional, if you take the money you do the job to the best of your ability. There will be no additional cost to Oxford for the new search as stated at a board meeting and reported, NESDEC will not charge for the current superintendent search.
Ed Spruck August 11, 2011 at 07:14 PM
This board has accomplished many great things, most recently replacing 20 year old social studies textbooks. I have listed many others in the past. The current Business Manager is a vast improvement over the two previous business managers. I’m on the ballot to be a member of this board to continue the improvements they started. The financing of education will continue to be challenging for all of us. Control of the budget will be enhanced by the Business Manager. Facilities need work and should be in the town’s capital budgets. Accreditation review is coming and we need to remain focused on it. Test scores evaluation should focus on “goal” not “proficiency” performance; it’s a long term process to improve them. The new coordinated GO/HS math curriculum should help. Our students deserve a rigorous education. I support the enrichment programs and hope the $12k can be found to re-instate them.
xxxoxox August 12, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Hopefully in the coming period, the board will be able to focus more of its energy on our kids education and less on personal issues. While having a business manager is important, hiring competent and lasting personnel is an expectation rather than an accomplishment. The board's leadership on personnel issues has been a distraction and has limited the continuity and progress on important issues in the school. Replacing old textbooks, while clearly important also falls in the expectation column. Why weren't these replaced sooner? Clearly there is a problem with tracking textbook status and condition. If there is not one already, a tracking system and replacement plan should at the very least be considered.
xxxoxox August 12, 2011 at 01:16 PM
We also may also need to evaluate the way that curriculum is managed. Is it coherent across grades so that students using Everyday Math in first grade transition to a similar approach when moving to second grade rather than learning a whole new method. I have heard this concern from many parents who, like me have young children in the system. There are many ways to improve our system that would provide quality improvements with little or no cost. However, with the leadership of the school board having to respond to rallies, growing dissent at town meetings and personality conflicts - I think most would be hard-pressed to understand how any board could sustain attention on matters that involve real vision. I am running for a seat on the school board because I believe that we need to move beyond distraction and personality-driven leadership. I believe that the current Democratic candidates for the Board of Education represent the new leadership that Oxford desperately needs. No political operatives, incumbents or party surrogates - just Oxford folks looking to help Oxford move forward.
Rachael R August 12, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Stephen C. Brown: Why would you post your first comment if you truly believe the BOE" needs to move beyond distraction and personality conflicts" ? The first time you comment on a school issue you make me wonder if you can work cooperatively with BOE members of both political parties, and stick to real issues. Politics should not be what governs a school board. If you are someone out to settle some score, please spare us all the "they did this to who " stuff. Oxford needs to move forward. I have found in life that no matter how flat the pancake, it still has two sides. Repeating gossip and innuendo as though they are facts does nothing but pick a scab.
Ed Rowland August 12, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Like many recent issues in Oxford ,sadly this one also will become political.The past is just that.Learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward.In the mean time everyone should enjoy what is left of the summer.
xxxoxox August 12, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Board leadership is an issue in the coming election. Dissatisfaction with how certain members of this board have acted and responded to community concerns is a matter of opinion rather than fact. Some are happy-some are not. I didn't make this issue up as past letters and rallies can attest. There is a choice this year.
Rachael R August 12, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Stephen C. Brown: If your credo is "I believe we need to move beyond distraction and personality-driven leadership"; live by it. Drama, gossip, and casting aspirations have no place on a school board, and despite how you may try to spin it otherwise your very first comment tells the tale. People are sick of "finger-in-your-eye" politics despite what your confidantes may tell you.
Jennifer August 12, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Nice try CSI. Keep things in context please? Anyone who read the article and steam of responses you reference knows that Stephen Brown was quoting a current BOE member (Maccio) who has sadly, and unprofessionaly taken to calling lots of Oxford residents "losers." Stephen's "tongue and cheek" reference was a way to highlight a glaring problem with the current BOE. I don’t care what you think of the board’s current membership, and their “accomplishments.” When they engage in name calling, figure pointing, buck passing, and shutting down constituents with legitimate concerns, it’s time for a change!
Rachael R August 12, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Jennifer: "Tongue and cheek", or "foot in mouth"? Seems as though dredging up the past is Brown's vision of the future.
Angelina C August 12, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Mr. Brown, I have moved away from these blogs because much of what I read is nonsensical rhetoric. However, I read your posts and applaud your sentiments and support your position. It is quite refreshing to hear someone who will focus on the mission of a board of education, and put politics by the wayside where it belongs. Well done on clarifying expectations from accomplishments. It's time to get work on fiscal and operational accountability. I don't know if you have a wife that works in central office, as one blogger on this site does. I would hope that is not the case, otherwise you are in the same political club as many others, in my book. I hope to hear more about your platform and hope what I have read is true to your substance. If so, I wish you well in November and assure my support at the polls.
MOM August 12, 2011 at 08:46 PM
CSI, to me personally, it shows that the Democrats have put what's best for the Town first and politics second, sounds good to me!
Rachael R August 12, 2011 at 09:12 PM
How anyone could in all honesty read what Brown wrote and say he is putting politics second is beyond reason. I wonder will Brown take the support of Andy, MOM, and Jennifer since they are posting without their full names, and a photo? BTW Andy it's no surprise you support his position and applaud his sentiments since you were the first one to take a stab at the BOE on this thread. While ED's wife may work in the Ed office, you may have reasons tied to family to be disgruntled with this BOE. Building a platform on how much you hate the opposition is not a platform...it is rhetoric, and while Brown may know the difference between expectations and accomplishments I have no confidence his motivation is anything more than grudge-carrying, or wanting to be a "big fish in a little pond". He will not be getting my vote. I guess that's what makes a horse race.
xxxoxox August 13, 2011 at 09:56 PM
I feel like I've officially become a candidate now that the misquoting and ferreting-out of dubious ulterior motives has begun. Thanks for the welcome CSI. Jennifer is correct in her summation of your obvious misquote. The people that Macchio termed "losers" are exactly the people I intend to reach in this campaign. We all lose when that is the discourse that our public officials engage in. As for Rachel, I don't "hate the opposition" but I'm not exactly feeling the love from you either. If you had read my post after Mr. Spruck's - you would have noticed some potential issues. However, you have seemed more interested in creating my personality profile here and CSI seems more than willing to add the misquotes and lies. The voters will get to know me and will be able to decide who I am. Posting here has only introduced me to political operatives who have very different motivations than the average voter who just want good people to vote for. I'm still holding out for you vote Rach.
xxxoxox August 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM
For clarity CSI, when someone uses quotation marks (i.e "losers"), it means that the writer is using another's words rather than his own. My post from "Open Forum To Voters - July 17th used quotations to indicate that the use of the term "losers" was referencing another's remarks - in this case Mr. Macchio. Please re-read the thread and you will see the grammatical distinction. Other's may wish to review the thread as well to see what the republican field thinks of potential voters. And, I'm adding reading comprehension to my list of issues.
xxxoxox August 14, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Actually, the words are those of Mr. Macchio which I quoted - hence the quotations. manufacture a controversary if you wish but I have faith that most voters have a grasp of grammar and will be able to see the sarcasm that you appear to be missing. I agree with your recent quote that you are engaging in "more of the same politics as usual." Funny how that fits.

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