In an attempt to bring Oxford some long-awaited stability in educational leadership, the Board of Education Monday unanimously appointed a new superintendent of schools who has seven years experience as head of a local K-6 school system.
The board hired current Bethany Superintendent Tim Connellan, 58, from an applicant pool of 14 candidates by a vote of 9-0 at Quaker Farms Elementary School.
Over the past two years, Oxford has had two superintendents and two others have served as interim leaders of the four-school district. School board members said they hope Connellan will be here for the long term, and Connellan told reporters Monday that is his plan.
Connellan has not yet signed a contract with the district. Board of Education Chairwoman Paula Guillet said she expects the pact will be completed and signed by early next week. She hopes Connellan will start on Aug. 1.
Calling Oxford a nice community with a solid school district, Connellan, who also has a background overseeing special education programs in various school districts across the state, said "there is tremendous potential" for the Oxford school system.
Connellan, a married father and grandfather who lives in Southington, was director of student services in North Haven for eight years prior to serving as Bethany’s superintendent. For two years before he served in that role, he oversaw special education in North Haven.
Guillet said the board hit a home run by hiring Connellan.
"Those who worked with Tim most recently said he is one of the rare individuals who is a knowledgeable educator and an excellent manager, an articulate communicator with strong interpersonal skills, excellent judgement and the highest level of integrity," Guillet said. "Tim has an unwavering focus on what is educationally sound for students. He rolls up sleeves and addresses problems thoughtfully and always in a collaborative, sensitive manner."
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Guillet called the hiring of a superintendent "one of the single most important decisions that a Board of Education makes for its schools and community."
The hiring was made after a search committee made up of teachers, administrators, parents, community representatives and school board members, she said.
"He clearly rose to the top," during the interview process, she said.
While Guillet did not immediately have Connellan's resume handy at Monday's board meeting, she said the administrator has broad-based early educational experiences, beginning as a psychologist, teaching at both the elementary and secondary level.
She praised his recent professional accomplishments in Bethany, including transformation the budget process to reallocate financial and educational resources on teaching an learning. And she said he helped initiate a curriculum alignment plan, has a knowledge of the accreditation process and has implemented a plan to embed technology within the curriculum. Guillet acknowledged that those are key areas Oxford schools need to focus on in the coming years.
The school board has not yet revealed exactly much Connellan will be paid. Guillet said the board anticipated the salary would be somewhere around $150,000 a year.