PROSPECT — Community School Principal Joseph Nuzzo was on hand to greet students Tuesday for the first day of school in Region 16. Come the last day of school a new administrator will be in place to bid students farewell for the summer.
Nuzzo, 58 of Meriden, is retiring at the end of October.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Nuzzo about his retirement.
Nuzzo has been Community School’s principal since 2001. He said he’s really going to miss the children. However, he said, a number of education changes coming this year — including curriculum changes and a new evaluation system — coupled with the fact that Oct. 31 will mark his 35th year as an educator in the state led him to opt to retire next month.
“I just felt at this point it was a good time to go,” Nuzzo said.
The Board of Education accepted his retirement letter at its Aug. 28 meeting.
“We’ve worked with Joe for many years and he has been an asset to the district,” board Chair Priscilla Cretella said. “We are sincerely grateful for what he’s done.”
The board plans to replace Nuzzo with an assistant principal, who will be the assistant principal of the new Prospect Elementary School, Superintendent of Schools Tim James said. The new school is slated to open for the 2015-16 school year. Once the school opens Algonquin and Community schools will close and the students will all attend the new school.
Algonquin School Principal Rima McGeehan will be the principal of the new school. James said once the new assistant principal is in place McGeehan will be named principal of Algonquin and Community schools. The board hopes to have an assistant principal in place for when Nuzzo retires, James said.
James said McGeehan and the new assistant will spend time in both schools.
“There’ll always be an administrator in each of the buildings all day,” James said.
James said it made more sense to hire an assistant principal now. He said it would be difficult to hire a principal for Community School, who would then be demoted to an assistant principal in two years. He added hiring the assistant now allows students, teachers, the community and the new assistant to all get acclimated to each other.
Currently there is no assistant principal position for the region’s elementary schools. The new position will have to be discussed with the administrator’s union, James said.
The change will also impact McGeehan’s salary. The union’s contract states that principals of schools with more than 600 students earn more money, James explained. As principal of both Algonquin and Community schools, McGeehan will oversee more than 600 students. James said her salary will increase from $114,037 to $118,808.
Despite the increase for McGeehan, James said, the district will save money by hiring an assistant principal. Nuzzo’s salary this year is $119,910, James said. The assistant principal’s salary is expected to range from roughly $104,000 to about $108,800 based on experience, he said.
As Nuzzo’s time in Region 16 draws to an end, James said the district is grateful for his service.
“We appreciate his service to Region 16, the students, parents and the whole community,” James said. “We wish him luck on his retirement.”
Nuzzo’s time in the district began before 2001. He was first hired as assistant principal at Long River Middle School in 1998 after teaching for years in the Meriden public school system.
Nuzzo is a part-time adjunct instructor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. He currently teaches two graduate-level education courses and said he may pick up another course when he retires. Nuzzo added he’s looking to do some traveling as well in retirement and may, some day down the road, do some substitute teaching to reconnect with the children.
Nuzzo said he’s made many friends during his time in the district, who will remain friends after he retires. He said over the years the administrative staff has been great and the school board has always been supportive of his efforts.
“It’s been a great experience in the district,” Nuzzo said.