Jay Smith Will Serve As Reed's Interim Principal

Faced with the sudden resignation of the principal at Reed Intermediate, Newtown education officials are moving quickly to ensure the first day of school at Reed goes off without a hitch.

Dr. Sharon Epple's last day as principal of will be Jay Smith's first as the interim principal.

Epple, who has served as principal of Reed for the last three years, . She has accepted a job as principal of a school in East Hartford.

With the first day of school rapidly approaching (you can actually see a clock counting down the time on the district's website), administrators turned to a familiar face, Smith.

"Jay is retired, but he is no stranger to Newtown," Janet Robinson, superintendent of schools, told Patch during a telephone interview Tuesday.

Smith served as interim principal at for about six months in 2007 up until the arrival of the current principal, Charles S. Dumais, according to Robinson.

“He is very well respected in the state of Connecticut," she said.

Debbie Leidlein, chairman of the Board of Education, added, “We’re excited that Jay Smith will be joining us.”

As interim principal, Smith will be making on a per-diem basis what Dr. Epple would have made this year, $148,178. "The position itself carries that salary,” Robinson noted.

'A Great Team in Place'

“I’m very confident that the beginning of the school year, while it will have its challenges, will go smoothly,” Leidlein said.

“We have a great team in place,” she continued, acknowledging Jennifer Sinal, Reed’s assistant vice principal. Leidlein called Sinal “a wonderful administrator” and said she would play an integral role in the transition.

A Permanent Replacement

While the immediate focus is on the start of school and ensuring a seamless transition between Epple and Smith, Robinson said the district will be working toward hiring a permanent replacement for Reed.

Toward that end, she said they will host focus groups with teachers and parents to see what qualities they want to see in the next principal. After that information is in hand, the district would then begin accepting applications.

Asked what qualities she thought are important for the new principal at Reed, Leidlein said, “Definitely a strong leader is the first thing that comes to mind. And a good communicator.”

Elaborating, she added, “It’s imperative that we have someone who’s a team player,” in the school and district wide.

Coming tomorrow: A Q&A with Dr. Epple in which she shares her favorite memories at Reed, reflects on her greatest accomplishment there, and touches upon the biggest challenge facing the school and district.

Paul Alexander August 22, 2012 at 04:00 PM
That's how Newtown's various political "Leaders" avoid individual accountability. Hide behind a focus group, consultant's report, committee recommendation… It’s a time tested political strategy. It nauseates me that these people want the power, perks and authority of leadership positions, but avoid the accountability of the positions at all costs.
Janice Rossi August 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM
$148K + benefits & pension. A private sector employee needs to gross over $200k to match that. With that being said, I would tell any person thinking of opening a business "You Shouldn't Build That" and go work for a municipality or government.
Matt August 23, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Another complainer who thinks educators should do the job for free. The woman has three college degrees including a doctorate. You would whine that 50K would be too much.
Bruce Kraemer August 23, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Not bad pay for a part time job!
dean alan martin August 23, 2012 at 08:00 PM
As a former Chair of the Newtown Board of Education and a 43 year resident of Newtown ,it's a shame that such ignorance passes for a legitimate opinion in these times !


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