NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education voted Thursday to extend contracts for Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson and Business Manager Wayne McAllister for one year.
Tindall-Gibson had planned to retire when his contract was up June 30, but he has agreed to work alongside school McAllister for another year.
McAllister’s contract was up at the end of this year, but now he will continue as the board’s business manager until Dec. 31, 2012.
Tindall-Gibson came under fire two years ago when the borough school system faced a budget deficit projected at $2 million. Municipal leaders called for him to resign, and the teachers union and borough board held nearly unanimous votes of no-confidence, criticizing his financial management and communication skills.
Following the financial crisis, Tindall-Gibson worked with McAllister to turn that deficit into a small surplus.
“Since then, I don’t know exactly how the mood has changed amongst the membership,” said Charlie Marenghi, vice president of the Naugatuck Teacher’s League.
He said he encouraged union members to contact school board Chair Heller with their feedback before the board voted on the extension.
“A lot has changed since 2010, so I think there’s a lot of mixed feelings on the part of the membership,” Marenghi said.
Over the past year, Marenghi he had gained respect for Tindall-Gibson while working with him on the building committee for the high school renovations.
“I really see a man who’s definitely committed to seeing through this renovation project,” Marenghi said.
Marenghi said he was personally happy to have Tindall-Gibson on board.
“I think he’s the right guy for this time,” Marenghi said.
Marenghi added he also felt more at ease knowing McAllister will stay on as business manager to oversee the district’s finances.
Heller said he started thinking about asking Tindall-Gibson to stay back in the fall because everything seemed to be going well in the district.
This past school year the school district made Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind for the second time since the program began in 2001, and the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) recognized three Naugatuck schools for being among the top ten schools in the state for progress in student achievement.
With the borough set to begin the Naugatuck High School renovation project, officials feel that Tindall-Gibson’s work on and knowledge of the project would be an asset moving forward. Also, as president-elect of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Tindall-Gibson would be in a “unique position” to help with reimbursement issues on the project.
Heller said Tindall-Gibson and McAllister each said they’d stay if the other stayed.
“We’re lucky to have them working as a cohesive team,” Heller said. “They work very well together.”
Tindall-Gibson said things are “so sweet” right now, anyone would want to stay.
“I’d welcome an opportunity to work another year here in Naugatuck,” Tindall-Gibson said in a interview prior to the meeting.
Tindall-Gibson said there are a lot of good things happening in the school district and he’s excited about the high school renovation project, which he called “phenomenal” and a “world-class school.” He said he’d like to see what he can do to help with the plans for the project.
Tindall-Gibson said he really enjoys working with the current board and he enjoys the relationships he’s developed with town officials, school staff, and parents.
“Things are working very well right now it seems in Naugatuck,” Tindall-Gibson said.
This is the second time the school board voted to extend McAllister’s contract, which was originally up at the end of last fiscal year, in June.
McAllister has been doing double-duty as borough comptroller and school business manager since the budget problems of 2009. Between the two jobs, McAllister said he regularly puts in over 60 hours a week.
“I feel like I’m doing it full-time,” McAllister said.
Tindall-Gibson will continue to work at his current salary of roughly $147,500. The board voted to give McAllister a $5,000 raise, which would put his compensation for being the board’s business manager at $20,000 a year. McAllister vowed to give that raise back to the Naugatuck Education Foundation to fund grants for teachers.
Members of the board can’t seem to praise McAllister enough for the work he’s done in turning the business office around.
“We have someone who is saving us a tremendous amount of money and you know, in no way have we really said thank you monetarily… $5000 is not much, but it’s a token thank you for the work he’s done for us,” said board member Glenn Connan, who proposed the raise.
A full-time business manager would make about $115,000 to $120,000 a year, according to McAllister. He said he performs all the duties in the job description, just without the normal pay.
“My appreciation for what Wayne does here and at town hall is beyond words,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.