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Superintendent Survey Open Until May 19



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With Superintendent of Schools Christopher Melillo departing at the end of the school year, the search for his replacement is on.

Darien Superintendent of Schools Dr Alan Addley announced in April that Melillo was appointed as the next principal of Ox Ridge Elementary School and would be “returning to his roots as an elementary school principal.”

This has left the Board of Education to once again be on the hunt for a new superintendent, after hiring Melillo in May 2022. Melillo replaced Dr Lorrie Rodrigue, who was hired in 2018 and announced her retirement in 2022. Rodrigue in turn replaced retiring Dr Joseph Erardi, who retired in August 2017 after being hired in 2014.

Melillo’s replacement will be the district’s fourth superintendent over the last decade. While it is a shame that no superintendent has settled in to Newtown for the long haul, this largely appears to be the way of things, as many municipalities find themselves on superintendent searches with some degree of regularity, as superintendents seem to always be looking for the next bigger better deal. Until they finally decide to retire, like Erardi and Rodrigue.

The public has a chance to weigh in, at least in a preliminary fashion, with an online superintendent survey, first reported in last week’s Newtown Bee in the article, “Board Of Education Approves New English Curriculum For Grades 6-8.”

The Newtown Board of Education invites and encourages members of the school and broader community to participate in the search process for a new Superintendent of Schools. The Board has contracted with a search consultant who will conduct a survey in early- to mid-May. The purpose is to gauge the community’s perspectives on the qualities, experiences, and characteristics desired in a new superintendent. We encourage students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents, town officials, and community members to participate.

An anonymous survey will be available until May 19 at surveymonkey.com/r/NewtownSuptSearch.

Feedback from the survey and other data will be incorporated into a leadership profile that will guide the Newtown Search Committee in identifying high-quality candidates who best fit the needs of Newtown Public Schools.

“We encourage the community to be a part of this important process and look forward to incorporating the results of their participation into the Search Committee’s work,” said Alison Plante, chair of Newtown Board of Education.

The Newtown Bee encourages all residents to take this opportunity to have feedback into the hiring of one of the town’s top officials, who will be shepherding the school system into the future. It is a decision with far-reaching implications into the future.

While potential longevity is an important consideration, it’s really impossible to know whether a superintendent candidate intends to stay with the district for their career or whether they will move on at the first opportunity. Certainly, no superintendent candidate would admit in an interview that they’ll likely be gone in two years.

Likely the best things to look at will be any plans a superintendent may have that could make an immediate impact on the district’s health, on its budget, and addressing lingering learning loss from when the students were learning from home during the pandemic. Other important considerations would be a superintendent’s ability to communicate with the public and deal with parents.

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