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Norwalk School Chief Gets Contract Extension

NORWALK, Conn.--The Norwalk Board of Education voted to extend Superintendent Susan Marks’s contract at Tuesday evening’s meeting. She received more good news at the meeting when the board finally voted to create the position of Director of Grants, Enrollment, Academically Talented and Operational Projects, a position she has been proposing, in one form or another, for the past two months.

With a 7-1-1 vote -- Migdalia Rivas voted against and Steve Colarossi abstained --  a year was added to Marks's contract, extending it to June 30, 2014.  Her annual salary of $200,000 with an annuity of $30,000, remains the same with no raises. Colarossi explained that his abstention was not a vote against a person, but rather a vote against the Connecticut practice of automatically extending contracts one year to maintain three year contracts.

The vote happened without much discussion.  During public comments, however, Bruce Mellion president of the teacher’s union, suggested Marks's contract was being extended without following prescribed evaluation procedures and timeline. He added that the evaluation had not yet been made available to the public . “Not one word has become public,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the board voted 7-1-1 to renew the contract of Assistant Superintendent Anthony Daddona.  Sue Haynie voted against the renewal and again Colarossi abstained. This year, Dadonna will make $192,151, which includes a deferred 2.5 percent raise to be taken in the form of furlough days and a $5,000 annuity.

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 6-2-1 in favor of creating the Director of Grants, Enrollment, Academically Talented and Operational Projects.  Board members Rosa Murray and Migdalia Rivas voting against the position and Jodi-Bishop Pullan abstained.

Marks described the position as “urgent”, because several administrative positions were lost due to budget cuts, especially the oversight of grants. “How are we going to meet the needs of students and staff?  We need this position to pick up key work,” she said.

Marks called the position a “bridge to a future reorganization of central office.”  She also said that she scaled back the position’s responsibilities based on the board's recent comments.  “After each meeting, I tried to listen and be responsive to feedback from the board so we have common goal.”

Bishop-Pullan and Murray asked if the position could be a lower paying specialist position.  Colarossi wondered if it could be an executive assistant.

Marks emphasized that she needed a qualified 12 month position and that the difference between a director level position and an instructional specialist position (a 10 month position) was only $4,000.  “This position requires at least a master’s and a broad knowledge of school systems,” she said. Board member Glenn Iannaccone spoke in favor of the position.  “We already put back positions into the schools like housemasters and assistant principals.  Now it’s time to put back one into central office.”

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