Superintendant No Longer Acting

On a 9-0 vote, the Board of Education approved Superintendent Joe Macary’s contract after a contentious meeting Monday night. Macary was hired after Dr. Thomas Smyth retired at the end of the 2008-2009 school year. Until now Macary has been serving with the title of “acting” superintendent because he had not yet fulfilled state requirements to hold the position of superintendent. He completed those requirements and received the appropriate certification last week.

The move was contested by retired and present teachers as well as some parents who asserted that Macary’s management style was abrasive and violated their rights. While the teachers currently employed by the school system refused to be identified for fear of retaliation, recently retired teacher and Teacher of the Year Kathy Cordone spoke on their behalf Monday night and in letters to the Wolcott Community News. An article detailing some of the grievances ran in Sunday’s Republican- American. She pleaded that the Board delay its decision so that the allegations could be appropriately investigated. Macary’s one year contract was to run out in June.

Two other parents as well as Tyrrell Middle School Assistant Principal Joe Norcross, and Board member James Pape came to Macary’s defense during the opening meeting. Those supporters see Macary as moving the school system forward and at times assisting parents with their childrens’ education. The Board went into executive session to discuss the matter and later returned to vote.

Other details regarding this story, the meeting, and the new contract will be added later.


6 Comments to “Superintendant No Longer Acting”

  1. The hiring of a superintendent is serious business; it affects us all in many ways. It affects those of us with children in the school system and those of us who never did or no longer have kids in the system. From the superintendent’s office comes the overall direction and initiatives which lead our school system. Excellent schools make our children prepared to have successful careers and productive lives. Top schools also make Wolcott a town desirable to live in, thus keeping property values high. On Monday evening March 1, 2010 the Wolcott BOE, in acting to making Mr. Joe Macary our permanent superintendent, took a major step in ensuring that the education in Wolcott will remain at a high level which is a benefit to us all.

    Mr. Macary has a tough act to follow. Twelve years of leadership under Dr. Thomas Smyth brought our school district to the high levels we enjoy today. We have done this with solid leadership from our elected Board of Education during this time period. Our Board, which we entrust to the management of our school system, has an enormous responsibility to do what is right. In weighing all factors, I applaud our board, both Republicans and Democrats, for their unanimous support of Mr. Macary by voting to approve his new contract 9 to 0.

    There has been some publicity around a letter written by a former teacher to the Board of Education questioning Mr. Macary’s leadership skills. To let a letter from one former teacher, with reported support of several unnamed teachers in our district, tip the scales against an educator who has demonstrated an excellent track record here in Wolcott, as well as in his previous role in Waterbury, would be like allowing a few sprinkles to postpone a World Series game. I personally have talked to many administrators, teachers, and employees in the school district and I have yet to have anyone express a concern to me about Mr. Macary’s leadership of the district. It is incorrect that the Whisper published on Monday that “there is plenty of time to review Mr. Macary’s contract”. Those of us who have lived in the world of education know that good leaders get scooped up in a heartbeat. Solidifying Mr. Macary at the first possible moment after his certifications were in place is a very smart move by our Board. In essence the BOE’s action makes this statement – “let’s get him before someone else does”. It is foolish to think that leaving this young leader with great potential (who has a career and young family of his own factoring in his decisions) dangling on the open market, is wise, prudent, or makes any sense at all. The town of Milford has experienced much unrest in their community because the situation with their last TWO superintendents. If you want to hear about low morale or upset parents, take a trip to Milford. Good leaders are difficult to find, and wise Boards do not let them slip through their fingers.
    Let us not forget that we have just solidified a contract for a man who was hired for the Assistant Superintendent position by Dr. Smyth – he was further supported by Dr. Smyth to become our Acting Superintendent – serving in that capacity for the last nine months. We entrusted our schools to Dr. Smyth for a dozen years – I know he loves Wolcott and our community – why would he ever have hired someone who he did not believe was not going to serve us in the high capacity we have come to expect from a long line of successful superintendents?

    Mr. Macary has just transitioned through what I call the Girardi Complex. After leading the Yankees for about a dozen years and being regarded as a great leader Joe Torre left, opening the position for a young and energetic new leader Joe Girardi. For those of you who are baseball fans and listen to talk radio you know that by the middle of his first season with the Yankees in 2008 many fans were ready to bag Girardi; “he has lost the team”, “he is not a good leader”, “he is not Joe Torre”. Well cooler heads prevailed – Girardi kept his job – and the Yankees in 2009 continued their excellence by capturing the World Series.

    On Monday night cooler heads prevailed at our Board of Education. Mr. Macary was given a vote-of-confidence. Some naysayers may say Mr. Macary was the winner in this attack on his character, but I believe that I and my fellow citizens of Wolcott are the winners. Just like the Yankees, let us see where we are after a reasonable period of time passes. I trust that we will be in an even better place than we are today.

  2. I couldn’t agree more… it would seem that some (but not by any menas most) expereienced educators do not seem to favor the trend that is developing where superintendants actually travel the halls of their schools trying to get a handle on what, exactly, is working and what, precisely, is not. Mr. Macary seems to have ruffled some feathers with a “hands-on” approach that seems to be working in many of the more successful school districts in this state. I say that that is exactly the kind of leadership we need.

  3. Chipatipan you are exactly correct. Mr. Macary has a regular schedule of visiting each school in Wolcott. He does not just make a token apperance in the office, but visits classrooms, talks to students and teachers.

    He is very interested in what is working and what is not. He is not from the old school where the Superintendent sits on a high throne, negotiates contracts, builds budgets and confers degrees.

    This IS the trend and it works – younger teachers actually enjoy the interaction and the opportunity to speak with the superintendent regularly. Teachers who have been around many years often do not.

  4. “Chipatipan you are exactly correct. Mr. Macary has a regular schedule of visiting each school in Wolcott. He does not just make a token apperance in the office, but visits classrooms, talks to students and teachers.”

    You are obviously not inside the district. Yes Mr. Macary is in the school on a regular basis, yet I, or any other fellow in the students have yet to see him associate with us. I have myself tried to approach Mr. Macary several times with no issues but just to say hello, and have yet to be successful. Yes He is in the school, but from what I have observed it looks more like some form of an inspection.

    I often am starting to think that many citizens are getting Mr. Macary and Dr.Gilmore confused. I have had the greatest opportunity to converse with Dr. Gilmore more than once. She was very at tentative to the students, and was willing to listen to what we had to say. I have seen her in the High School lunches on many occasions, sitting with the students eating a school lunch and just talking.

    And Greg, I have seen you discussing this topic alot, but I would like to know, what exactly is your relation to our District.

  5. @WHS-Student, I am a public school Administrator. I work at ACES, which is the RESC which services Wolcott and 25 other districts in south central Connecticut. I am also a citizen of Wolcott, a member of the Wolcott Republican Town Committee, parent of a Wolcott Public School student, former candidate for the Board of Education. ACES provides services to Wolcott as well as many other districts. I have the opportunity to be in many districts and meet with many administrators (including superintendents and other central office staff) in my daily life……

    I hope this explains why I believe I have something to offer to this conversation. I am very happy to see you, a student at WHS, interested in and offering your opinion about our town govt. and leadership. When I was running for the BOE last summer and fall, I made it a point to reach out to students, through email and Facebook, as well as in person. I think our young people being involved and aware of what is happening in town will make us an even stronger community now and in the future.

  6. Chipatipan,
    Just curious…On what are you basing your statements that Mr. Macary’s hands on approach is ruffling some feathers? And do I detect that you think it is mostly older experienced teachers whose feathers are being ruffled? I have talked to parents who have been treated unprofessionally by Mr. Macary as well as several teachers. It has nothing to do with him visiting the buildings… it has to do with how he does not treat people respectfully…. not everyone of course, but enough well respected, good teachers to be concerned that he has not have enough experience managing people (how much actual classroom experience has he had if his first teaching job was in 1998?) to be the inspirational leader a superintendent should be. He has never been a principal, good training for leading a school district. The teachers he has disrespected range in age from their 20’s to their 50’s. Unless you have seen him in action, as I have, or know someone he has mistreated, it’s hard to believe.

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