Interim no more

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School board names James permanent superintendent

After serving as Region 16 interim superintendent of schools for eight months, Tim James was named the permanent superintendent by the Board of Education Wednesday night. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

PROSPECT — The interim tag no longer applies to Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Tim James.

The Board of Education unanimously approved making James the permanent superintendent Wednesday night. James will work under a two-year contract that runs through June 27, 2014.

“Tim has done everything that we have asked him to do,” board Chair Priscilla Cretella said. “He extends himself to us at all times and all hours.”

Cretella said James has been so valuable to the district that the board is happy to extend his time in Region 16.

After James was named the full-time superintendent, he humbly thanked the board.

“It is a privilege, I’m enjoying everyday,” James said.

Under the contract, James will be compensated a little more than $166,000 each year of the deal. He will be paid a salary of $68,850 with the board providing $97,388 in other defined benefit contributions to comply with requirements of the Teacher Retirement Board.

Prior to taking the interim job, James was superintendent of schools for the Orange Elementary School District. He retired from Orange before taking the interim position. At the time he was hired as interim superintendent, James said he was planning to retire from Orange at the end of last year before he heard about the opening in Region 16.

Since he is drawing a pension, state law requires that he can only receive 45 percent of his compensation in the form of a salary without impacting his pension.

The board is not providing James with health benefits, since he is retired, an estimated annual savings of $18,000.

The contract also provides James with $150,000 in term life insurance coverage and 10 vacation days a year.

James replaced former Superintendent of Schools James Agostine, who left in January to become superintendent for the Monroe school district. He was hired, in part, due to his experience with school building projects during his career.

The district is currently in the midst of a three-part building project, for which voters approved bonding roughly $47.5 million at a referendum in December. The project includes building a new elementary school in Prospect, a new district office in Prospect, and major renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls.

Part of the reason James was named permanent superintendent is so he can help oversee the project, which is expected to be finished in mid- to late 2014. But, since he started the job in January, James has made quite an impression on the board.

“Since his arrival in Region 16, Tim has established a positive professional rapport with the Board of Education members, the chief elected officials from Beacon Falls and Prospect, Building Committee members, and district staff and parents of students with whom he has been in contact,” a prepared statement issued by the board said. “He has effectively addressed a number of personnel matters and quickly established a very good relationship with the leaders of the collective bargaining units in the school district. He has quickly developed an excellent relationship with the district’s administrative team and has been a visible presence at numerous school and district events and activities.”

Now that the word interim no longer shows up in James’ title, he isn’t resting on his laurels. James presented the board with a list of 12 goals, such as assessing and enhancing the district’s music and world language programs, he’s seeking to accomplish this school year.

Although James’ contract is for two years, the board has left the door open for him to stay on past 2014.

“Should the district continue on its current path,” the board’s statement said, “consideration will be given to offering Tim the opportunity to extend his time as superintendent of schools in Region 16 beyond 2014.”

Whenever the time comes to find another superintendent, James has offered to do the search for the board at no cost.