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Newtown Superintendent Officially Going to Stratford

Stratford Board of Education appoints Janet Robinson at special meeting Wednesday night.

The interview process for Stratford's next superintendent progressed and Janet Robinson became increasingly attracted to the district.

"The priorities are kids and how kids are achieving," Robinson, the current Newtown superintendent who will take the helm in Stratford July 1, said after the Board of Education Wednesday officially approved her appointment.

Chairman Gavin Forrester said Robinson -- who was the top recommendation for the job before the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook -- will receive a three-year contract with an annual compensation totaling $210,000, which is "toward the bottom" when compared with what other districts in Fairfield County pay their head of schools.

Former Stratford Superintendent Irene Cornish -- who retired at the end of 2012 after nine years at the post -- took home a total of $191,000 in 2012. Last February, when the search for the next superintendent began, a Stratford Patch poll found that 81 percent of readers believed "$200,000 is competitive enough to attract a qualified superintendent."

"We got a fair contract," said Forrester, adding that he commends Robinson for her ambition to lead a district with about 1,700 more students than Newtown. "It shows her willingness to prove what she can do."

And what's more, she's on Twitter and uses the social media site to communicate with her district, he said.

More than 20 candidates submitted resumes to the Superintendent Search Committee which conducted four rounds of interviews and "extensive" reference checks, according to Forrester. Robinson said she got the first callback from the committee in October.

"Through this process, Dr. Robinson rose to the top of a very competitive group," Forrester wrote in a letter to the community earlier this week.

Robinson has been the head of Newtown schools since 2008. Her tenure has seen both national praise and controversy, especially since the Dec. 14 shooting. She testified in Washington, DC, recently received the Peace Islands Educator of the Year award, and will be honored as Superintendent of the Year by the University of Connecticut in March.

But she faced criticism at home from board members for her remarks on two Newtown elementary school choirs, and faced other contentious issues in the years before the shooting, including a long debate over bus contracts. In the summer, her contract was extended by two years rather than the standard three.

On Wednesday, Robinson said she's excited to get going in Stratford, a school district she is not entirely unfamiliar with. She said as deputy executive director at Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull from 1997 to 2002, she worked with Stratford educators and was impressed with how technology was being used in schools.

"They were always in the forefront," said Robinson, adding that she plans to keep technology a priority in the district.

Interim Superintendent Margaret Lasek will continue to serve in that position until Robinson officially comes on as superintendent on July 1.

Emma February 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM
"In the summer, her contract was extended by two years rather than the standard three." This statement is not correct. Her contract was not extended, leaving her with the remaining 2 years.
cathy urso February 28, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Good luck Janet . We are sorry to see you go. Thank you for all your hard work through all of this. Catherine Urso
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com February 28, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Janet, Thanks you put up with incredible politics of destruction yet stayed focussed on providing the kids with they nbst education possible with fewer dollars than almost every distrcit in the state. Those are going to be huge shoes to fill.
yoda February 28, 2013 at 04:42 PM
http://youtu.be/XOEq-ImGWJ0
wasabilori-newtown February 28, 2013 at 06:05 PM
My sentiments exactly yoda.. well said!!
Greg Burns February 28, 2013 at 06:05 PM
To begin her new position perhaps she should take a course in facility security. A relevant recommendation for all school administrators.
Jeff February 28, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Did Stratford offer a Communications Consultant to seal the deal?
Esmerelda Guggenheim March 01, 2013 at 05:58 AM
While Newtown and Sandy Hook are in this unbearably painful adjustment period, post school shooting, I think it is completely inappropriate for the superintendent to even consider leaving the town's school district. Regardless of anything that went on prior, don't you think the school shooting and its tragic aftermath would be enough to tell her to put all gripes aside, and just focus on getting everyone, students, parents, and teachers through this terrible time? It is very crass of her to be negotiating her exit from Newtown all during this excruciating tragedy.
Greg Burns March 01, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Esmerelda, a fair comment - it just may be, it is all "about her". I wonder if Newtown is loosing anything with her leaving? In spite of that question or perhaps because of it - it seems like a captain deserting the ship in trouble. I think she did little about that trouble, unless you think a superintendent these days should not be managing school security "better". It could have been done better. My house is secured better. Perhaps she is leaving because people may be asking if Newtown leaders should have given more attention to school security. Hopefully all of our town, police and school leaders will be doing that, NOW. Is it unfair to hold people accountable for basic things we know now, we should have done, but did not? Should we expect better of "professionals" who would neglect basic school security hardening and effective emergency response? I would hope we will expect that NOW! To be honest I am glad my kids are out of school. I am not sure what we can expect from our learers concerning public security. Too often people are asleep about the potential for violence. We are not Vigilant and often not the least prepared. In think we deserve better. I think we could have been better prepared in most schools accross America not just Sandy Hook. Let us see what happens NOW.
Sam Mihailoff March 01, 2013 at 12:02 PM
there was nothing lacking in school security nor respnse time...of course now a military post would not be enough security....but wait, there was an assault on one of them too, right? Robinson has been looking to "jump ship" (your words) since last spring.
Greg Burns March 01, 2013 at 12:19 PM
"there was nothing lacking in school security nor respnse time" Really, The expectations you have for your security and that of your kids are a bit too low for me. As for response time we do not know yet, we have no report from police what happened YET. It appears however, Internal response was lacking because of lack of time because of poor physical security. The response at my house, I can assure you, would be better .
Michael Cragin March 01, 2013 at 01:39 PM
love........versus......hate.......who is Newtown?
Douglas Brennan March 01, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Well said!!
carlistojoe March 01, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Janet loved it here and wanted to stay. Unfortunately, Leidlein and Roche harrassed her to the point that they were looking for any reason to fire her. They made her apologize for her comments regarding the controversy with the two choirs. Blame the board for continuing their agenda against Janet. Shame on them.

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