Principal’s move to North Branford leaves Old Saybrook position unfilled

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:53 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — The school district is gearing up for new Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker to start work Jan. 1, while Old Saybrook — where Schoonmaker is the high school principal — is starting to search for his replacement.

The Board of Education last week approved a contract for Schoonmaker to replace Superintendent Robert Wolfe, who is retiring Dec. 31. Under terms of the three-year contract, Schoonmaker will earn $145,000 in his first year, according to district Business Manager Donald Winnicki.

According to Old Saybrook Superintendent of Schools Joseph Onofrio, high school Assistant Principal Tara Winch will serve as interim principal after Schoonmaker leaves. The district is also hoping to fill Winch’s assistant principal spot soon and is starting a nationwide search for a new principal.

The district is hoping for the principal to start July 1, 2009, and will hold focus groups for community input, according to a letter Onofrio sent to parents.

Schoonmaker said he is working on transition efforts in both North Branford and Old Saybrook, where he will continue to work through the end of the year.

“I’ve had a couple of days to shadow and walk through the buildings (in North Branford), and I’ve been so impressed with what I’ve seen with the teachers in the classrooms and their focus and dedication,” he said.

He added that his first priority is “to get to know as many of the faculty members and students as possible.”

“I really need to get a feel for the community and a sense for some of the things that they feel are critical and important,” he said.

Schoonmaker said that he is planning to continue living in Old Saybrook. He has four children ranging in age from 3 to 10.

After a months-long search, the Board of Education last month identified Schoonmaker as its first choice to replace Wolfe. Schoonmaker has been principal of Old Saybrook High School for 11 years. Before that he was the school’s dean of students and taught at the middle- and high-school levels.

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