New Milford school chief announced
MILFORD - New Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser said Monday night she was “excited” to be tapped for the position, and pledged that she has “no desire to turn the school system upside down.”
Feser said she hopes to build on the “fine” curriculum initiatives already underway, and vowed to work tirelessly on behalf of the students.
“I commit to you … and promise to work with the best interests of the children in mind,” said Feser as she addressed about 50 parents, educators, and students at Jonathan Law High School Monday night.
Feser, 60, of Windsor, late Monday signed a three-year contract to become superintendent. The school board voted unanimously Monday to approve her hiring. Feser arrived flanked by Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. and immediately received a thunderous standing ovation. A reception was held in the school’s cafeteria where students erected a “Welcome Elizabeth Feser” banner.
She will officially start April 4, and will receive a base salary of $185,000, which is $15,000 more than former Superintendent of Schools Harvey B. Polansky received last year. While Feser’s salary may be higher than Polansky’s the total compensation package will only be $1,500 more. Polansky’s total financial compensation last year was $203,750, while Feser will receive $204,800.
Feser, who has served the previous nine years as Windsor’s superintendent, like Polansky will receive a $15,000 annual annuity, and will also receive $4,800 for travel expenses, which Polansky did not receive. However, Polansky received $10,000 for his teacher retirement contribution, $2,300 for a doctoral stipend, $2,000 for a whole life insurance policy, and $4,500 for a long term care policy. Feser will not receive any of those monetary benefits.
Additionally, Polansky’s retirement benefits cost the district $30,384 annually, but when Feser retires it will cost taxpayers nothing. Additionally, the school board has to pay four times Polansky’s salary as part of a life-insurance payout, while Feser would receive twice her salary.
Once Feser made her way into Law’s media center Monday she said the reception was “really powerful,” and she was “moved” by the community’s reaction to her.
“I’m honored and humbled,” Feser said.
She said Milford’s public schools have an excellent reputation, and she looks forward to collaborating with the staff, and again vowed not to make any drastic changes.
“I have a tremendous amount to learn about Milford,” said Feser while adding she’ll be moving to Milford.
She said she wanted to come to Milford because it’s a larger district, and poses more challenges.
“Dr. Feser comes to Milford as one of the most highly regarded educational leaders in Connecticut. Her working relationships with prior boards, staff members, city officials, and other agencies have all been characterized as collaborative, transparent, and of high integrity,” said Mark Stapleton, R-1, who is the school board’s chairman. “Dr. Feser has demonstrated success in all of the districts she handled - in the form of strengthened academic programs, improved instructional practices, and significant increases in student achievement. Educational leaders throughout the state have commented that Milford has ‘struck gold’ with this appointment. I look forward to working with her.”
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning R. Michael Cummings has been serving as acting superintendent of schools since Nov. 15, 2009. Cummings was named acting superintendent after Polansky was suspended with pay after two principals filed sexual harassment charges against him. Polansky’s criminal case was concluded Thursday after he pled no contest to breach of peace, but the more serious sexual assault charges were dropped.
Feser has also spent 8 years as an assistant superintendent in the New Canaan Public Schools. Previously, Feser spent seven years as principal of Danbury High School.
“Milford is fortunate to have Dr. Feser as our superintendent. Her leadership experience and vision will help to continue, guide, and extend the work of our staff. Our district will improve as a result of her leadership,” said Cummings.