Region 16 board turns to James to bridge super gap

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Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agsotine, right, is seen here during Woodland Regional High School’s graduation in June. Agostine’s last day in the district will be Jan 15. The Board of Education has hired Tim James, who’s currently serving as superintendent of schools for the Orange Elementary School District, as interim superintendent. FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The Region 16 Board of Education didn’t have to look very far to find an interim superintendent — just about 20 miles south.

The board approved hiring Tim James, who’s currently serving as superintendent of schools for the Orange Elementary School District, as interim superintendent of schools for Region 16 following an executive session at its Nov. 7 meeting.

“We’re very, very happy that (James) applied for the position because he seems to have a vigor and drive we want to embrace,” board Chair Priscilla Cretella said.

James was chosen from a list of about nine candidates to take over in Region 16 for the rest of the school year once current Superintendent of Schools James Agostine leaves to become superintendent for the Monroe school district.

Agostine said his last day will be Jan. 15 and James will start on Jan. 10 so the two can work together for a few days to ease the transition.

Agostine said James is a terrific person, who has experience in regional school districts.

“He’s an excellent candidate,” Agostine said.

James was already planning to retire from Orange at the end of this month prior to the board’s search for an interim superintendent.

James said his retirement plans were due more to time served than a lack of energy and willingness to continue his career in education. James agreed to take the interim position, he said, because he feels he can provide some energy and experience to Region 16.

“I just have too much energy to retire,” James said.

James will be paid about $680 a day to be interim superintendent, according to school officials. James salary is based on Agostine’s base salary of $153,000 divided by the number of days, 224, James is expected to be in the position. James will not receive any benefits from the district.

James’ educational career spans 41 years, beginning at the age of 22 as a teacher in Long Island, N.Y. James has spent 23 of those 41 years as a superintendent. He’s been superintendent in Orange for the past seven and a half years. Prior to the position in Orange, James was superintendent in Region 6, which covers Warren, Morris, and Goshen.

James earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Elon College, now Elon University, in North Carolina, a master’s degree from Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y., and a professional diploma in educational leadership from C.W. Post College in Long Island, N.Y.

As interim superintendent, James said his plans are to work with the board, administrators, and school staff to help them achieve their goals during the time he’s in the district.

James will be coming on board at a time when the district could be moving forward with a school building project and will be engrossed in budget preparations.

The $46.7 million school project will go to a referendum on Dec. 20.

James said he’s been a part of four building projects in his career, all of which came in under budget and on time. He said hopefully the referendum will pass and he’ll be able to help the board move forward with the plans.

James said he is experienced in putting budgets together for regional school districts. He said he understands the budget process in a regional district and wants to come in and help maximize the taxpayers’ dollars.

“I think my experience in regional school districts will be an asset to the board and communities in doing a budget and working through the process,” James said.

The board will begin searching for a full-time superintendent soon after Jan. 1. James said he does not plan to apply for the position.