Ledyard Superintendent Graner to lead Groton schools

Ledyard Public Schools Superintendent Michael Graner, shown Tuesday in his Ledyard office, has been named superintendent for Groton Public Schools.
Dana Jensen/The Day Ledyard Public Schools Superintendent Michael Graner, shown Tuesday in his Ledyard office, has been named superintendent for Groton Public Schools.

Michael H. Graner, the superintendent of Ledyard Public Schools, has accepted the job as superintendent of Groton Public Schools.

The Groton Board of Education offered the superintendent's job to Graner Monday night but did not specify contract terms such as salary, Groton school board member Robert Peruzzotti said.

Graner said Tuesday he accepted the job Monday night.

"I told everybody in Ledyard that on the one hand, I'm just so grateful for the experience I've had here working with an outstanding school community, but I'm also enthusiastic about the new challenge of leading Groton Public Schools," Graner said. "The school community is so ready to carry forward and realize its full potential."

Graner said he would work out the details with Groton but probably would start around Jan. 1. His contract in Ledyard has a 90-day clause, and Graner said has spoken to the chairmen of the school boards in Groton and Ledyard.

Graner sent a districtwide email Tuesday, telling Ledyard residents that he had accepted the position in Groton.

He said he wanted his colleagues to hear it from him. He wrote that he was proud of the "team" in the schools and that one of the key goals of the board over his time was to create a "culture of excellence."

"As my journey moves from Ledyard to Groton, I want you to know that I will not be far away ... literally, in terms of geography, and figuratively, because my heart will remain in Ledyard," he wrote.

The new job will take Graner from a school district with 2,559 students to one with a student body of 4,826 during the 2012-13 school year, according to the Groton school district's budget.

Graner said he would have two immediate orders of business once in Groton.

"One is to immediately get a firm handle on the financial aspects of the district, and the second would be to work with the administrators, principals, town officials and central office staff to make sure I can listen and understand the needs of the community," he said.

Graner has been Ledyard superintendent for 10 years. He previously served as superintendent of Putnam Public Schools and as a principal in the Thompson and Waterford public school systems.

"I think his integrity is beyond reproach and everybody says he's very honest and forthcoming. Obviously, he's got a lot of experience," Peruzzotti, of the Groton school board, said, adding that Graner's experience weighed heavily in his favor.

"The system is in dire need of going back and building the trust with the public, building the trust with the staff, and I think he can do that," Peruzzotti said of Groton.

Peruzzotti said he knows Graner through his family; Graner's daughter, Lea Graner Kennedy, is on the Groton Parent Council and is married to former Groton Board of Education member Clint Kennedy. Lea Kennedy teaches in Stonington but has children in the Groton public schools.

The board voted, 5-1, to offer Graner the job. School board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt, Vice Chairwoman Beth Gianacoplos, Peruzzotti, and members Rita Volkmann and Kim Shepardson Watson voted in favor of Graner. Board member Shelley Gardner voted against. Board members Chaz Zezulka and Patricia Doyle abstained. Board member Beverly Washington left the meeting before the vote was taken.

Groton has had four acting or interim superintendents since the board fired former Superintendent Paul Kadri in March.

Six people applied for the Groton superintendent's job. The board chose three finalists who met with the community and were interviewed the week of Sept. 16. The board then narrowed the list to two before selecting Graner.

Graner said the second round of interviews included the school board and members of various "stakeholder" groups, including a student, community member, teacher, principal, non-certified staff member and a member of the central office staff.

The consulting firm McPherson & Jacobson LLC helped with the search process and will work with the board and superintendent to establish performance objectives for Graner's first year on the job.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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