Schools Superintendent John Tindall-Gibson may be sticking around a little longer than expected.
The Board of Education will discuss a proposal Thursday to keep the school chief on board for another year. The board will also discuss keeping borough Controller Wayne McAllister on board in a dual role as interim school business manager.
“During the past 18 months, John Tindall-Gibson has worked with Business Manager Wayne McAllister to improve the business operations of the Board of Education,” board Chairman David Heller said in a statement. “Working well together, they have found ways to align and combine town and Board of Education functions, creating greater efficiency and saving tax dollars.”
Tindall-Gibson’s contract was due to expire in June 2012 and, in a previous interview, Mayor Robert Mezzo said the superintendent had planned to retire after that. But Tindall-Gibson confirmed with Naugatuck Patch on Monday his interest to remain leader of the borough’s 11 public schools until 2013, when the board’s proposed one-year agreement would expire.
“I certainly will welcome the opportunity work in Naugatuck another year,” Tindall-Gibson said.
Ultimately, it will be up to the full school board whether to give extensions to both officials. Heller said the discussion will happen during the board’s monthly meeting, which be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 at .
Tindall-Gibson, a Litchfield resident and former school chief in that town, was hired by Naugatuck in 2006. He oversaw the school district during the 2009 budget crisis when school officials discovered there was a potential $2 million operation deficit. He was criticized at the time and calls were made by the teacher’s union and Mezzo for him to resign.
Mezzo acknowledged the school chief’s embattled past in a post published on his personal blog on Monday. But while the mayor did call for Tindall-Gibson — and then-board Chairwoman Kathleen Donovan — to step down, Mezzo said he now supports the proposal to extend the school chief’s contract.
“Although the relationship between Dr. Tindall-Gibson and myself was certainly strained by the events of 2009, we have both managed to work together productively over the past year,” Mezzo stated in the blog. He later added that he never questioned the superintendent’s experience and that Tindall-Gibson always “impressed” Mezzo when they discussed the topic of education.
Heller noted that, in the past two years with Tindall-Gibson at the helm, Naugatuck schools made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act. He added that, just recently, three borough schools were recognized by the political watchdog group ConnCan as being among the top ten schools in the state for progress in Connecticut Mastery Test scores.
In his blog post, Mezzo discussed how the Board of Education — following the May 2011 election — has also seen a shake-up with five new members elected. He credited Heller for taking a “dramatically different strategy and agenda” than the previous board leadership did, and added that Tindall-Gibson is also on board with this new direction.
“Dr. Tindall-Gibson has embraced this culture change and committed to improve communications with parents, staff and taxpayers,” Mezzo said. “The superintendent has committed to the reorganization of the (board) business office under the direction of Mr. McAllister. Such a strategy will allow us to explore possible and well-planned cooperation between the (board) and municipal government that can result in tangible benefits for all stakeholders in the borough.”
McAllister is often credited for turning the once projected $2 million deficit into a surplus over the course of the last two years. He has often received praise from both borough and education officials for his financial prowess and the fact that he fulfills business manager duties at very little cost to the borough.
In the 2010-11 fiscal year, McAllister agreed to take on the role of school business manager for approximately $15,000 on top of his $89,000 salary as borough controller. He agreed to a six-month extension earlier this year, earning $7,800 as compensation for his school district manager responsibilities.
It’s unclear exactly how much McAllister and Tindall-Gibson would earn under the proposed one-year extensions; the board will likely discuss the costs at Thursday’s meeting.
Tindall-Gibson told Naugatuck Patch he’d do the job as school chief at his current $147,465 annual base salary, the same as he’s earned for the past two years. McAllister declined to comment for this report.
“I would expect the stipend would be similar,” Heller told Naugatuck Patch. “At this point, I don’t see any changes in the salary structure for either the superintendent or the business manager. But until the whole board decides, nothing’s set in stone.”
Despite being eligible for retirement in three months, Tindall-Gibson, 64, said he’s interested remaining on board here, particularly because of the work he’s now involved with in the district.
“I love the things that are going on in the schools right now,” he said. “The staff in the school district is wonderful. There are great parents and wonderful business people that I’ve met. So it’s a lot about relationships. I really enjoy working with all of those different groups here in Naugatuck. Things just seem to be working well right now.”