Search set to begin for next Algonquin principal

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PROSPECT — The search for a new principal to lead Algonquin School will begin this week.

The pre-kindergarten through third grade school in Prospect has had two interim principals since former Principal Lynn Patterson was placed on administrative leave in late February. Patterson was the subject of a personnel investigation. The investigation concluded March 8 when she requested and was granted a leave through June 30, when she will officially retire.

Currently, Kristin Bernier, assistant principal at Long River Middle School, is serving as interim principal at Algonquin. The Board of Education is seeking to have a permanent principal in place in August.

Last week, the school board approved the process and timeline for the principal search at its regular meeting.

A 10-member search committee is expected to be selected and in place by the end of this week. The committee will be comprised of interim Superintendent of Schools Tim James, three elementary teachers, one special education teacher, one principal, two board members, and one parent from each from Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Letters have gone out to parents seeking people willing to serve on the committee, James said. Any parent who wants to serve can e-mail a letter of interest to James at tjames@region16ct.org by May 3.

James said if he receives letters from more than one parent from each town, he will select parents at random through a lottery.

The committee’s task will be to weed through candidates and choose three finalists to be interviewed by the board. The board is scheduled to interview and select a principal around July 11, with the intention of having the principal in place by Aug. 13 the latest.

The only question remaining is whether the person selected to be the next principal will also be the principal of the new elementary school in town scheduled to open in a couple of years.

Board member Robert Hiscox said the public perception is that the person chosen will be the principal of the new school.

“They got that perception because we gave it to them,” board Chair Priscilla Cretella said.

At a board meeting in March parents of Algonquin students asked what the plan was for hiring a permanent principal. At the time, Cretella said the person hired would be the principal of the new school.

Last week, the board backed off from that position.

James cautioned the board about sending the message that the person hired would be the principal for the new school, especially if the person does a good job but the board wants to look around in a couple of years.

James said when the board discussed hiring someone now rather than waiting until the new school opens the idea was to hire the best person for Algonquin.

“We’d really be targeting right now the person who would be the best fit for Algonquin School. But, keeping in mind that it may well be the person that will be the principal of the new school,” James said.