Search on for next school chief

REGION 16 — The search for Region 16’s next superintendent of schools is underway.

Tim James, superintendent for the school district that oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, returned earlier this month from a nearly month-and-half-long medical leave of absence. Among his first order of business at the Board of Education’s June 11 meeting was to lay out the process to hire his successor.

The projected timeline has the board hiring the new superintendent by the end of July. The target is for the new school chief to start by Sept. 2, depending on how much notice he or she may have to give to his or her current employer.

In the meantime, an advisory team, including parents and officials from both towns, will be established and feedback will be gathered from staff and the community. The district has established a brief online survey for people to provide feedback. The survey is available on the homepage of district’s website, www.region16ct.org, through the link “Superintendent Search Survey-ends June 30, 2014.” The survey closes on June 30.

Two focus group meetings will also be held. The first is scheduled for June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Long River Middle School in Prospect. The second meeting is set for July 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls.

James submitted his resignation to the board in April citing medical compilations from an undisclosed condition. He plans to remain with the district until a new superintendent is in place.

James came to the district in January 2012 as interim superintendent for the region, when former school chief James Agostine left to take the superintendent job in Monroe. James made such an impression on the school board that he was hired as the permanent superintendent in August of 2012.

James fell ill last year with an undisclosed medical condition and took a leave of absence for treatment from February to May of last year. The most recent leave was due to a surgery that was unrelated to the undisclosed condition.

James will be facilitating the superintendent search for the board free of charge. The board will conduct the screenings, interviews and ultimately choose the next superintendent.

“I’m not replacing myself,” James told the board. “I’m helping you find your new superintendent.”

Board member Sheryl Feducia said a parent asked her if it was odd that James himself is conducting the search process. Feducia said James knows the region and has the knowledge necessary to help find someone that can continue the positive initiatives he’s started.

Board Vice Chair Priscilla Cretella said the board appreciates James taking the time and responsibility to do the search.

“This is a large, large job. It’s a huge responsibility,” she said.

When the time comes for the torch to be passed, James said he wants step away quietly. James, who was hired in part because of his experience with school building projects, said he was asked if he could stay on with the school building committee overseeing the three-part building project in the district. He declined, saying it wouldn’t be fair to the next superintendent.

“I really want to step away quietly,” James said. “I think that’s best for the district. I think that’s best for the superintendent.”

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