Borough school board to start superintendent search soon


Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson checks out a classroom during a tour of Naugatuck High School. RA ARCHIVE
NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education will soon begin its search for a new superintendent.

The current schools chief, John Tindall-Gibson, has said he will retire June 30, when his contract expires. School board members said last week they would like to begin looking for a replacement soon.

In meetings, board members have discussed forming a search committee and hiring an outside firm to help find a pool of applicants. They also decided to promote Brigitte Crispino, the former director of curriculum of instruction, to assistant superintendent to ease the transition. Crispino has said she does not plan to apply for the top job.

“Other than that, we haven’t done anything further to this point, because we’re concentrating on the renovate-to-new project,” Vice Chair Dorothy-Neth Kunin said. “I would have liked to start it sooner.”

Board members said the $81 million project to renovate Naugatuck High School to new status has occupied much of their time since May, when the majority were elected to their first term.

The board is relying on Chair David Heller to guide it through the search process, Kunin said. Heller is the only one of them who has been through a superintendent search, having been elected to the school board in 2005, a year before Tindall-Gibson was hired.

The board has not yet decided whether its search process will mirror the recent one in Waterbury, where names and backgrounds of finalists were made public and residents were given a chance to ask questions of the candidates.

“My understanding is that what we’ll do is something similar,” said Secretary Debra Brackett.

The identities of candidates are only likely to become public once the board has narrowed the pool down to a few, Brackett said.

“We’re not going to throw 30 people out there to the wolves,” Brackett said.

Tindall-Gibson was hired in July 2006, five months after his predecessor, Robert Cronin, accepted the job as superintendent of Woodbury and Bethlehem schools. Three years later, Tindall-Gibson came under fire while 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.

Some of this year’s school board members said they thought Tindall-Gibson was doing a good job.

“I don’t have all the details, but from what I understand, all the blame can’t be placed on him,” said Brackett, who was elected to her first term in May.

Neth-Kunin, who also praised Tindall-Gibson, said she thought it was important for a new superintendent to be aware of new technology and how it can be used in schools. “I think technology has catapulted us so far in advance that we don’t want to lose sight of that, and we don’t want to miss that opportunity, so maybe somebody with a fresh perspective,” she said.