School board fills vacant assistant superintendent position

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The Naugatuck Board of Education promoted Brigitte Crispino, above, to assistant superintendent. FILE PHOTO
NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education voted unanimously late Monday night to promote Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brigitte Crispino to assistant superintendent.

The promotion is part of the board’s reorganization of the administration and business office, according to school board Chair David Heller.

Crispino was considering retiring this year, but the board convinced her to stay.

“I really decided my commitment was to the district,” Crispino said.

As the board prepares to begin its search for a new superintendent to replace retiring Superintendent John Tindall-Gibson, Heller said it needs someone to help with the transition.

Tindall-Gibson plans to retire in June 2012, but the board will begin its search for his replacement in November, Heller said.

“It provides continuity between the current superintendent and whoever the new superintendent will be,” Heller said.

Crispino has already taken on most of the duties of assistant superintendent since the district’s last assistant superintendent, Maureen McLaughlin Scott, left five years ago after funding for the position was eliminated, Heller said.

“The reality is, compared to the other school districts in our educational reference group, we have the bare minimum of administrators needed to operate our school system,” Heller said.

The district has two administrators in its central office – the superintendent, and now the assistant superintendent – but three would be ideal, Heller said.

“We realize the funding is not available to fund three positions,” he said.

With a budget referendum coming up, Heller said the school board realizes it may have to make additional cuts.

“We will continue to ask Brigitte Crispino and John Tindall-Gibson to do the work of three people,” Heller said.

Crispino agreed to a two-year contract that would raise her salary $10,000 to about $131,000. Federal Title 1 grant dollars will pay for the increase in salary, Heller said. Since the board doesn’t plan to fill the director of curriculum position, the promotion will be income neutral, Heller said, meaning it won’t cost taxpayers any additional money.

“We were thrilled to be able to do this and not incur any additional expense,” Heller said.

Heller called Crispino a “valuable resource” who has served the district for over 30 years.

Crispino began her career in the Naugatuck school system as a reading teacher at Hillside Middle School in 1974. She went on to become a reading specialist consultant at Naugatuck High School and several Naugatuck elementary schools before taking her current post at the central office in 2000.

Crispino said she got into education because she felt it was the best way to help children become successful adults.

“I always felt that it was important to support children and to give them the best opportunity that they could have to be successful in life,” she said.

In her new position, Crispino will continue with her old duties, which include developing curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grades and grant writing. She will have additional responsibilities and duties, yet to be determined.

Crispino said she wanted to see several projects she has started to fruition, including the strategic planning process.

“My work wasn’t done. I really enjoy the work I do,” Crispino said.

She said she enjoys collaboration with her colleagues.

“I think continually improving the education system is something I really want to pursue for a number of years to come,” Crispino said, although she wouldn’t say whether she planned to stay beyond her two-year contract.

Crispino will continue to work on curriculum revision to bring common core standards to English, math, and science courses. She said the K-12 initiative will be her main focus over the next several years.

“It’s an exciting time to be in education,” Crispino said.

New state mandates for secondary reform will have an impact on curriculum starting in elementary schools, she said.

“What happens in early grades provide for student success at the secondary level,” Crispino said.

The school board also voted Monday night to hire current high school Naugatuck High School Associate Principal Jan Saam as the school’s principal.

“It was a good night for our educational system (Monday) in Naugatuck,” Heller said.

Crispino began her new duties today.

“I’m excited an honored by the board’s action and really looking forward to the opportunity the board has given me to serve the students families and staff of the Naugatuck public school system,” Crispino said.