School board names principal assistant superintendent

Christopher Montini, principal of Cross Street Intermediate School, was promoted to assistant superintendent. –RA ARCHIVE
Christopher Montini, principal of Cross Street Intermediate School, was promoted to assistant superintendent. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education kept it in house when choosing Naugatuck’s new assistant superintendent of schools.

Cross Street Intermediate School Principal Christopher Montini was hired as the new assistant superintendent by the Board of Education on Tuesday.

“I’m delighted to have this opportunity,” Montini said. “I look forward to collaborating with the board and serving students of this fine community.”

Candidates for the position were whittled down to three applicants by a selection committee. Those three applicants were then decided on by the full board.

Board of Education Chairman David Heller said all three were strong candidates for the job, but Montini stood out.

“He was an extremely strong candidate in terms of quality and performance during interview,” Heller said.

Montini was the only internal candidate among the finalists. The other finalists were a principal from the Region 12 school system and an administrator from Massachusetts, Heller said.

Heller said Montini stood out because he is a Naugatuck native who has worked in the borough school system for the past 14 years.

“He is well liked by the teachers, staff, administrators, students, and parents,” Heller said.

Growing up in Naugatuck Montini attended Central Avenue Elementary School, City Hill Middle School, and Naugatuck High School, where he graduated from in 1993.

Montini attended Southern Connecticut State University where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and elementary education, a master’s degree in elementary education, and a sixth-year degree in educational leadership.

Montini said he spent his first year teaching at Curiale School in Bridgeport. After that he began teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth grades in Naugatuck. Montini was assistant principal at Hop Brook Elementary School for one year before going to Cross Street, where he has served as principal for the past seven years.

“It’s our experience that he had a terrific impact on the students,” Heller said.

Montini said he is looking forward to collaborating with the board to continue building on the culture of education that the board has begun.

Montini said he also wants to focus on a “kid first” policy to keep students’ interests at the forefront of all the decisions that are made.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with the board to create conditions in our schools where children will thrive and flourish,” Montini said.

Montini will replace Assistant Superintendent Brigitte Crispino when she retires in June.

Montini spoke highly of Crispino and said he was prepared to step into the position she is leaving.

“Brigitte Crispino’s impact on the Naugatuck public schools is profound, it’s immeasurable,” Montini said. “I don’t think I can be Brigitte Crispino, but I am poised and ready to pick up where she left off.”

Montini’s pay and start date are being negotiated. Heller said he predicted Montini would make more than his current principal’s salary, but less than Crispino, who makes $131,000.

Montini’s departure from Cross Street will leave a principal vacancy. Heller said he expects the board to begin discussions and a search for a new principal over the next few months.

While the board has filled the assistant superintendent position, it will have to conduct another search next year when Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson retires.

Heller said there are not currently any plans to move Montini from the role of assistant superintendent to superintendent. Heller said he was not sure if Montini would want the role, or if he would be qualified after having worked only one year as assistant superintendent.

None of the top three candidates for the position had any experience as an assistant superintendent, Heller said.

For his part, Montini is looking forward to taking on a different role in the school system that gave him his education.

“I’m fully committed to this town,” Montini said.