A super transition

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James Agostine, left, outgoing Region 16 superintendent of schools, talks with interim superintendent Tim James during a break in Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — There has been a changing of the guard atop Region 16’s administrative hierarchy.

James Agostine oversaw his last Board of Education meeting as the district’s superintendent of schools Wednesday night.

“(Agostine) has executed everything we have asked him to do. The one thing I can say is he is leaving Region 16 better than he found it,” school board Chair Priscilla Cretella said.

Agostine will begin his new position as superintendent in the Monroe school district next week.

“It’s been a great experience in Region 16. I’m really happy with the work we’ve done and look forward to new challenges,” said Agostine following the board meeting.

While the meeting was Agostine last, it was the first for interim Superintendent of Schools Tim James. James, who sat aside Agostine during the meeting, was hired as interim superintendent in late December. Prior to coming to the district, James was superintendent for the Orange Elementary School District and had planned to retire at the end of last year from Orange before accepting the interim position.

With James in place, the board’s attention will now turn to finding a permanent replacement. That search got off to frugal start as James volunteered his services, free of charge, to perform the search for the board.

James told the board he was happy to do the search for the board as a professional courtesy. If the board hired a firm or a state education organization to do the search officials estimated it could cost the district up to $18, 000. The board gladly accepted James’ offer.

“We all are very enthusiastic about that,” Cretella said in a subsequent interview.

Cretella said James’ offer was a wonderful perk not only for the savings but because of his experience in the education field and ability to whittle down prospective candidates.

James gave the board a draft timeline for the search, which was discussed in executive session. Cretella said she will meet with James in the coming to week to adjust some dates on the timeline.

The first step to finding a new superintendent is to form a search committee. The committee, which will be comprised of school and town officials along with members of the general public, will be formed in the coming weeks Cretella said.

Exactly when a new superintendent will be hired is still to be determined.

With a number of major issues currently facing the district, not the least of which is the three-part, $46.7 million building project, James told the board he is willing to stay on as interim as long as the board feels is necessary.

“I’m committed to do what you want me to do for you,” James told the board.

Cretella said the board is willing to consider keeping James past the end of this school year.

“We are going to start the search committee,” she said. “But our building project right now and the repairs we need to do are our top priority.”