Interim superintendent, new BOE member in town

By Andrew J. Concatelli - ReminderNews Assistant Editor
Union - posted Fri., Jan. 28, 2011
The new Union School opened at the beginning of the school year. File photo by Andrew J. Concatelli.
The new Union School opened at the beginning of the school year. File photo by Andrew J. Concatelli.

UNION - As the Union Board of Education continues to search for a permanent superintendent to replace William M. Oros, who resigned late last year, Joseph Reardon has stepped in to fill the position of interim superintendent.

Reardon has been a school administrator since 1970. He describes himself as “semi-retired,” and he brings experience from other small school districts in Connecticut, such as Marlborough and Sherman.

The Union Board of Education found Reardon via a list developed by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents of licensed superintendents who are available for interim work. “When a board of education needs some assistance, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents is one area they can turn to, and the group would send them names and résumés, and then the board takes it from there,” Reardon explained in a recent phone interview.

Reardon’s first day on the job was Nov. 29, 2010. He said he plans to stay until the district hires a permanent superintendent for the part-time job, “and that could go as long as the end of this school year,” he added.

Board of Education Chairperson Andrea Estell said that Reardon, with his experience in small school districts, is a good fit for Union. “We narrowed the search to three applicants, interviewed and talked with all three, and we chose Joseph Reardon, basically based on his style of administration, as well as the fact that he’s been involved with small towns,” Estell said. “He will probably be here with us through the end of June. What we’d like to do is do a nice, deliberate superintendent search.”

The board is currently involved in the ongoing process of advertising for a permanent superintendent. “We could have gone the route of hiring consultants, but that is... expensive,” Estell said. “It’s more than we could choose to spend, and our audience of applicants would not require that we go that route. We’re a very small school system – the superintendent would be a one-day-a-week position – so we’re advertising to a very limited audience.”

Reardon said that even though he knows his time in this district is limited, he is still determined to serve the town in a positive manner. “When you come in, you owe it to the board and the town that hires you… to give every bit of service you would as a regular superintendent,” he said. “What an interim superintendent does is to ensure the continuity of all the functions of the office, and to take the board through whatever they happen to be facing. At this time of year, it’s examining the existing budget and putting together the new one. In the spring, it might be getting ready to go through the year-end activities and plan things that are going to take place in the summer.”

The interim superintendent said he has enjoyed getting to learn more about the town and its students. “Union is a very special school district. It happens to be the smallest one in the state of Connecticut,” Reardon said. “I sense that there is a great deal of community pride and people working together from various community agencies, as well as parents and citizens. I think the town can be proud of the building that it’s provided, the home it’s provided for the educational program. It certainly is sized to fit the student population, but it’s also been developed to meet the current and future educational demands that they’ll be facing.

“The size of the student body, just under 85 students – kindergarten through eighth grade – creates a very unique instructional opportunity, and there’s a lot of camaraderie among the students,” he added. “It’s a very positive place.”

One particular challenge that the Union Board of Education has faced this year has been the record-breaking snowfall and all of the decisions for school delays and cancellations that come with it.

“The board chair has handled it very well,” said Reardon, who lives in Manchester. “My making a decision for the closing or delayed opening of the school would be stretching it. There is a set-up, and it’s been in place for years, for the board chair to consult with the town road crew and other area districts in making that decision.”

In addition to welcoming Reardon to town, the BOE also recently welcomed Linda Pelletier as a new board member. She fills the seat vacated by former chairperson Chuck Singer, who resigned suddenly last October.

“She started in December,” Estell said of Pelletier. “Each town committee puts up names [to fill a vacant seat], and we also ask for any volunteers. Linda volunteered, and as it turned out, she was the only person who had volunteered. We’re very happy to have her on the board with us.” Pelletier is filling the remainder of what would have been Singer’s term, which expires at the end of June. In addition to Pelletier’s term, the other terms expiring this year are those of BOE members Heidi Lambert and Amy Blank.

Estell said she has had good experiences so far with both Reardon and Pelletier. “They’re both very nice folks… very thoughtful folks in how they approach things. They are both people who will look at the information and evaluate the information,” Estell said. “I’m pleased with both of our choices.”


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