Residents to list criteria for new schools chief

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
July 18, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The Board of Education will hold several public forums in coming months as part of the process for hiring a new superintendent of schools, Chairwoman Deborah Prunier said at the board’s regular meeting Thursday.

Board of Education members met this week with a consultant who will help with the search. One of the first steps will be meeting with town residents to identify the “leadership qualities” they are looking for in a new superintendent.

The meetings will be held at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 4, and at 7 p.m. Sept. 16. Locations have not been finalized.

“Public participation will be an important component of this search process,” Prunier said, reading from a statement. “The North Branford Board of Education will be making every effort to engage a wide range of stakeholders,” including parents, students, teachers and administrators.

Residents who cannot make it to the meetings can fill out a “leadership profile form” that will be available at all schools, Town Hall, the senior and community centers, and at Prunier said people must send in or drop off the forms by Sept. 16.

In May, Superintendent Robert Wolfe announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31. He has been superintendent since 2001.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Wolfe said that the district has decided not to accept a 10-cent per meal reimbursement from the state for school lunches because doing so could cost the district tens of thousands of dollars. The state issues the reimbursements to districts that meet certain nutrition standards, but Wolfe said that the schools would have to eliminate the occasional sale of ice cream in order to fulfill the standards.

At just one of the district’s three elementary schools, he said, that could mean a loss of $18,000 a year. Apart from selling ice cream, he added, the school lunches “meet or exceed” many of the state’s nutrition standards.

“Our food services director has made great strides … switching to more whole-wheat products and offering more fresh fruit,” Wolfe said. “The stricter standards would mean the elimination of the opportunity on certain days for students to buy snacks and ice cream.”

Under the guidelines of the state law establishing the nutrition standards, school districts have to declare whether they will participate in the program. The Board of Education voted Thursday to not comply with the standards.

Wolfe said that eliminating the sale of ice cream, with its predicted loss in revenue, could mean the district would have to raise lunch prices again. Last month, the board raised lunch prices by 25 cents at each school due to recent increases in the cost of food.

“If the reimbursement were larger, we might be able to accept the offer,” Wolfe said. “It just has tremendous financial ramifications.”

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