Updated 4:07 p.m. with additional details, comments, application and resume attachments and photo.
NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Board of Education has revealed the name of its top candidate to be the next superintendent of schools.
Dr. Steven J. Adamowski has been chosen to lead the Norwalk Public Schools and to press forward with reforms instituted by Manny Rivera, who left in January to accept the top job in New London.
The former Superintendent of the Cincinnati and Hartford Public Schools (with 38,000 and 24,000 students, respectively), he was named Special Master for the State of Connecticut Department of Education in 2011, providing state supervision and support to challenged school districts, according to the NPS press release announcing the choice.
Subject to approval of his appointment by the Board on June 16, Adamowski will begin his term as superintendent on July 15.
Interim Superintendent James Connelly’s contract has been extended two weeks to cover the gap, according to BoE Chairman Mike Lyons.
“Connelly will be on the payroll through July 15 for sure,” he said. “We may look into keeping him on for an overlap period to help Adamowski come in; we’ll be talking to Jim about that shortly.”
Connelly’s contract calls for payment of $965 a day. He began work as a consultant Jan. 19 in advance of Manny Rivera’s last day on Jan. 31.
Adamowski was chosen from a field winnowed down from 11 candidates by way of Skype and in-person interviews. The candidates were recruited by the search firm PROACT.
Adamowski’s identity was to be revealed June 9 at a Board of Ed meeting at which the full board would vote on the choice. However, the vote was delayed until Tuesday, June 16, because of a Norwalk Federation of Teachers contract clause that allows the union four days to vet the choice before it goes to a vote.
The fact that the union was given the name played a part in the public getting an advance look.
“We felt that if the union was entitled to get the information today, we saw no reason everyone else shouldn’t get it today, too, so we released it to everyone simultaneously,” said Lyons.
According to the press release:
Dr. Adamowski shares the Board’s commitment to building a school district of excellence for the 21st Century, one that truly embraces diversity and the goal of success for each and every student. He has committed to staying in Norwalk for the long term, and to full support of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board with former Superintendent Manny Rivera. We believe that he will bring to his Superintendency all the talents and values that the Board looked for in the lengthy search we conducted with PROACT.
Dr. Adamowski has been a successful educator and education reformer for over 35 years, and a nationally recognized urban superintendent. Dr. Adamowski served as Superintendent of Hartford’s system of schools for five years before assuming his Special Master duties. During this time, the performance of Hartford students on Connecticut State Assessments, once the lowest in Connecticut, rose by record levels, surpassing statewide gains for four consecutive years and substantially closing the achievement gap of Hartford students. Key to that success was an overhaul of the district into a system of high-performing schools of choice through the redesign and turnaround of low performing schools and the creation of new schools – a “Portfolio District.”
Prior to Hartford, Dr. Adamowski served as Senior Fellow and Managing Director of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, DC, where he focused on assisting urban school districts to improve their effectiveness. He joined AIR after serving as Superintendent/CEO of the Cincinnati, Ohio Public Schools, where he led a massive redesign and decentralization that pioneered the development of small, themed high schools and produced dramatic gains in student outcomes. Dr. Adamowski also served as Associate Secretary of Education in Delaware where he played a key role in that state’s early education reform efforts.
He currently teaches a course on Data-Based Decision Making for Superintendents in the University of Connecticut’s Executive Leadership Program.
Dr. Adamowski holds an M.A in Education from Trinity College in Hartford and a specialist degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his PhD in Educational Administration from Saint Louis University in Missouri.
Board Chairman Mike Lyons said that “Dr. Adamowski brings the exact set of skills – proven leadership in the implementation of major reforms – that we were looking for. We have a strong Strategic Plan, and now we have a strong implementer with a proven track record of making reform plans work. We are very excited that Dr. Adamowski has agreed to join us in Norwalk to keep the Norwalk schools’ long-term reform plan moving forward.”