OLD SAYBROOK - Now there are two openings for top leaders of shoreline school districts: one in Westbrook due to Dr. Pat Charles's recent appointment as the next superintendent for the Middletown School District, and the latest in Old Saybrook. The second opening became known two weeks ago when Superintendent of Schools Joseph Onofrio II told the Old Saybrook Board of Education (BOE) that he would retire at the end of the summer.
Onofrio announced his decision to the BOE on June 21 and to the broader school community of parents and staff in a letter sent out a day later.
At 61 years of age, Onofrio has worked in public education for the past 38 years and in the field of education for 42 years; for the past six years he has been the Old Saybrook superintendent of schools.
"Being superintendent of schools in Old Saybrook has been an indescribable privilege. I am very grateful for an extremely supportive Board of Education; an amazing staff and District Leadership Team; positive collaboration with town, safety, and law enforcement officials; and a very caring community," said Onofrio.
Of his decision to retire at this time, Onofrio said, "I wanted to retire to spend more time with family and to travel, but I will also continue to have a professional role in education."
Onofrio first joined the district administrative team in 2004 as director of Pupil and Personnel Services after service in the Guilford school system. In August 2006, the Old Saybrook Board of Education chose him to succeed the departing Sal Pascarella as the town's next superintendent of schools. Pascarella in turn had left the district after his appointment as the next superintendent of schools for Danbury.
Onofrio's letter to the school community spotlighted several district achievements that occurred during his tenure as superintendent. Among these was, first, the completion one year ago of the Strategic Plan that will guide the district's future. Second was the national recognition of Old Saybrook High School (OSHS) this year as a Gold Medal Award winner in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of U.S. high schools. The list put OSHS in 11th place among 195 Connecticut public high schools.
BOE Chairman Mario Gaboury in recent remarks reflected on Onofrio's imminent departure and his valuable service to the district and to students.
"Onofrio has had a distinguished 38-year career in public education and has had a tremendous and positive impact on the lives of countless children over those years," Gaboury said, noting that Onofrio's performance as superintendent had consistently been evaluated by the board as "exceeding the very high expectations for his position."
In the next 60 days, the BOE will now turn its attention to selecting an individual to serve as an interim leader until the board's search process yields a permanent replacement for Onofrio.
"The board's goal is to have someone installed as an interim [leader] by the first day of school," said Gaboury.
The BOE already has appointed itself to serve as an Executive Search Committee to conduct the search for a new superintendent of schools.
"I know our board greatly values the input of our citizens and I'm sure our board will have opportunities for the public to provide input into the selection of the next superintendent," said Gaboury.
Gaboury said the BOE was scheduled to meet this week to discuss the superintendent search process. Also on the table will be a discussion of the immediate need to select an interim leader to serve the district until a permanent replacement is appointed.