REGION 16 — A “serious health condition” has forced Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Tim James to take a medical leave of absence.
James’ leave began Friday and is expected to last six to eight weeks as he is treated for an undisclosed medical issue.
In a letter to staff, parents, the School Building Committee and elected officials in Beacon Falls and Prospect, Board of Education Chair Priscilla Cretella wrote that James was diagnosed with a “serious health condition” in early January and an aggressive medical treatment plan was developed that includes surgery.
The leave comes at a busy time for the district, as the board prepares to delve into its budget deliberations for next school year.
During the board’s meeting Wednesday night, Cretella said James left the board “well stocked with information” and will be available by phone most of the time during his leave. However, she said, the board decided it wanted a part-time interim superintendent in place in his stead.
The board unanimously voted to hire former Glastonbury Superintendent of Schools Jacqueline Jacoby, of Cromwell, as interim superintendent.
“She has a lot of experience,” James said. “She’s well versed in the law — education law.”
Jacoby was superintendent for Glastonbury schools from July 1993 to July 2004, when she retired. She has served as interim superintendent for Hartford, Bloomfield and East Hartford public schools since her retirement and is currently a senior search consultant with the Connecticut Boards of Education (CABE).
Jacoby said she accepted the interim job after meeting with James, who she described as a former colleague and friend, and Cretella.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with the fine people I have met in Region 16. Listening and learning will be my approach, taking my lead from the Board of Education, school leaders and central office staff. It will be my hope that my leadership experiences in a number of different communities will serve to enhance the day-to-day operations and decision making while I am serving in Region 16. We all wish Tim a speedy recovery,” Jacoby said.
Jacoby will serve on a part-time basis, the equivalent of two and half days a week, James said. She will earn $603.90 a day while she’s in Region 16.
There is no finite end date for how long Jacoby will be in the district. Cretella said while Jacoby is in Region 16 her time and allegiance will be to the district.
The board has also made arrangements with Wolcott Superintendent of Schools Joseph Macary and Oxford Superintendent of Schools Timothy Connellan to be on call in the case of an emergency for when Jacoby is not in the district. The two superintendents are doing this as a professional courtesy, James said.
James, a Torrington resident, was hired on an interim basis to replace former Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agostine in December 2011. Prior to coming to the district, James was superintendent for the Orange Elementary School District. Last August, the school board approved a two-year contract that runs through June 27, 2014 for James.
“In my many years here Tim has been the best superintendent I’ve ever worked with,” Cretella said Wednesday night. “He has a vision and a drive that we could all hope to achieve.”
As the board discussed the matter Wednesday night, James became emotional and had to step away for a minute to gather himself. On Thursday James said he was anxious to get his treatment underway and return to the district and felt good about leaving the district in Jacoby’s experienced hands.
Whenever James’ treatment is complete, he will be welcomed back by the board with open arms.
“It’s with whole-hearted prayers that we will see him soon. But whether it’s six weeks, 10 weeks, whatever, the board has told him emphatically that we will be waiting for him to come back,” Cretella said.