The Stratford Board of Education unanimously approved the selection of Dr. Janet Robinson to be the next superintendent of schools during a special meeting of the board Wednesday night. After the meeting Robinson signed her contract making her employment effective July 1.
Robinson is currently superintendent of schools in Newtown, and has led that school district through the aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Stratford Board of Education Chairman Gavin Forrester said the board had reached its choice of Robinson after a five-month search just prior to “the fateful day in December”. Forrester said the search committee made its choice based on Robinson’s credentials and the performance of her district, noting that three of the top 10 schools in the Fairfield County area are in Newtown.
“She is doing something right,” Forrester told the Star.
In particular Forrester said Robinson had done a great job with Common Core Standards, which Newtown has in place and which Stratford is just starting to grasp.
All of the “poise and professionalism” demonstrated by Robinson in dealing with the devastating tragedy, and the accolades she has received, “only reinforced our choice,” said Forrester.
Robinson told the Star that when she was approached about the Stratford job, “It was appealing because I knew Stratford from my work at CES (Cooperative Educational Services, a regional program in neighboring Trumbull). I had done a lot of work in Stratford.”
When asked what consideration the search committee had given to the fact that Newtown did not offer Robinson a contract extension last summer Forrester said they were not deterred by Robinson “upsetting the apple cart” in dealing with the school bus operators in Newtown or if some hard feelings were created there during contract negotiations with teachers. Under Robinson’s leadership Newtown changed bus operators, which she said saved Newtown $800,000, and she did not reach a contract agreement with teachers so the negotiations went to arbitration.
“A superintendent has two roles,” Forrester explained. “There is the budget side and the side of being a collaborative educator.”
The selection of Robinson indicates that the Stratford board approved of the way she operated in Newtown.
Robinson said that in her career as superintendent she has worked well “as a team player” with six school board chairmen, including three in Newtown, but a new school board chairman came in with different priorities. Nevertheless she is proud of her record with academic achievement in Newtown.
“I was able to implement plans to advance the schools, and Newtown now has four ‘schools of distinction,’” she said.
Stratford school board member Jancee Pust-Marcone told the Star after the vote that “Robinson is the right person for the job” and that her experiences in Newtown show that “she is able to make tough decisions.”
The University of Connecticut Neag School of Education will honor Robinson with its Outstanding School Superintendent Award. Robinson was selected for that award before the tragedy in Newtown occurred in December.