Region 16 board, school chief reach agreement on new contract

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

Michael Yamin

PROSPECT — The Region 16 Board of Education has given Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin a new three-year contract.

“As a board, collectively, we’re enthusiastically glad he’s staying with us,” Vice Chairman Robert Hiscox said.

The school board hired Yamin, 52, in 2014 to lead the region, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect. He worked in the Waterbury school system, including as director of special services and pupil personnel and principal of Kennedy High School, before coming to Region 16.

His new contract runs from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024, though the deal includes language that allows him or the board to end it earlier.

The contract increases Yamin’s salary 3% to $201,143 for the 2021-22 fiscal year. His salary will be negotiated before each of the last two years of the deal.

The board also provides Yamin $10,000 a year to invest in a retirement account, an $8,000 annual transportation allowance and $200 per month for using his personal cell phone for work, according to the contract.

Yamin is eligible for the same health care plans offered to school administrators.
Administrators have the option of a preferred provider organization plan or a high deductible health plan for health care, according to the administrators contract. The latter includes a $2,500 deductible for an individual plan and a $5,000 deductible for a family plan. The board contributes half of the deductible to a health savings account.

The region will pay 74.75% of the cost of the PPO plan and 81% of the high deductible plan in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Hiscox said Yamin has done an outstanding job for the district, especially with the budget. Overall spending in the region has increased by about $450,000, or about 1%, over the past five years combined.

Hiscox added the board is also pleased with the way Yamin has led the district through the COVID-19 pandemic. He said safeguards were put in place for students and staff, and the region developed a distance learning program that was ahead of other districts.

“We’re excited to have him continue in the district and continue to improve upon what he’s already improved upon,” Hiscox said.

The school board offered a new contract to Yamin last June, but at the time he chose to work under the final year of the present deal and continue discussions.

After agreeing to the new contract, Yamin said he couldn’t see himself leaving the region after the last year or so of hybrid and virtual learning during the pandemic. He said he wanted to stay and help get the region back to normal.

“I think the Board of Education, staff and the community really stepped up during the pandemic,” he said. “We worked as a team and we worked together for the same reasons, which are the kids and the region, and that’s a place that I want to work.”

After dealing with the pandemic and the effects it had on students — anxiety, mental health issues, lack of socialization — reopening as normal as possible next school year is among Yamin’s top goals.

“My first goal is to open a healthy environment for kids coming off the pandemic and also meet the Connecticut Department of Education requirements,” he said.

Yamin said officials also need to develop a plan for continuous student improvement and steady growth. He said he’s concerned that during the pandemic students may not have reached their potential or have fallen behind when they otherwise wouldn’t have in a normal year.

“I’m worried that we may need to increase the amount of intervention services and resources we have for kids,” he said.