The cohesion among the Easton, Redding and Region 9 Boards of Education was tested Tuesday night as the tri-boards argued over the best path to take with the news that Superintendent Michael Cicchetti is retiring in June.
"I don't want to see that we hire someone and then one year later they find the strains are too much," said Ed Miller, a Redding school board member. Any superintendent hired by the tri-boards is accountable to all three boards and carries the weight of three superintendents.
Cicchetti announced his retirement last week after 10 months on the job. He commutes two hours one-way to the Central Office in Easton.
The discord was acute between Region 9 and the other two town boards. Thomas Logie, a Region 9 board member, said the primary concern was finding a superintendent. But Easton and Redding members said structural impediments within the tri-board system needed to be addressed.
"I don't view this as an 'either, or,'" said Chris Hocker, a Region 9 member. "I think we need to put specific charges on the steering committee to set goals, evaluate the pool of likely available candidates, investigate certain legal and structural issues."
But Redding and Easton members said they preferred to establish two committees, one for finding a superintendent and one for examining the structure.
During public comments, Mike D'Agostino of Redding said the meeting was "looking like the U.S. Senate."
"We need to put individual board agendas aside and work together to realize the main objective is our children," he said.
After a joint motion to establish a steering committee was defeated by Redding's refusal to motion, the boards caucused for two minutes before reconvening. The motion was then passed to set up a committee to search for a new superintendent. Later, Easton's Vida Peskay motioned to form an information-gathering committee to examine best practices. Discussion lasted for more than an hour, ending in a split Region 9 vote but passing.
The Easton school board will meet Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Helen Keller Middle School.
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