Updated, 6:41 a.m.: Copy edits, information added
NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Branch NAACP is demanding that Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski and his cabinet “immediately step down.”
The call, delivered by NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) President Brenda Penn-Williams to NancyOnNorwalk at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, accuses Adamowski and his administration of “gross fiscal irresponsibility.”
Board members were in the process of approving their 2018-19 operating budget when Penn-Williams entered, after the public speaking opportunities had ended, and handed NoN a statement that said:
School Budget – WAKE UP NORWALK!!!
We have major concerns about how the Norwalk Schools are being run. There Is evidence of gross fiscal irresponsibility on the part of Superintendent, Dr. Steven Adamowski and his cabinet. We are publicly calling for action from the Board of Education and demand that Dr. Adamowski and his cabinet immediately step down.
New/Proposed cuts to Schools
- Central Office administration has no cuts. They are only cutting two secretarial positions.
- Adamowski is closing Briggs after the State gave the district 1.5 million of taxpayers money under the turnaround grant. He has systemically dismantled the school
- School districts that surround Norwalk are opening alternative schools while we close.
- Each high school is losing one guidance counselor
- Elementary schools are losing paras that work directly with students
Central Office Expansion/Salaries
- The Superintendent’s cabinet received nearly a 10% salary increase while others received 2%
- Before Adamowski arrived, Central Office operated under one leader for Curriculum and Operations. Adamowski came and divided the jobs and we now have two leaders costing the district double- approximate salary increase from $175,000 – 190,000
- Central Office increased at the expense of the schools and this happened under the leadership of then Chairman of the Board, Mike Lyons,
- Central Office is top heavy in Operations, Public Relations end Human Resources
- In Operations – a position was created and the person is paid over $135,000
– The Communications department was one person for many years and is now 3
– The Communications Director started at $65,000 and now makes approximately $100,000
– Human Resources ran with a staff of 4 and now there are 9
– The head of Partnerships and Technology now has a director under him.
– Adamowski is moving the principal at Brookside – She will be .8 at Brookside and .2 at Central Office.
– A Norwalk High School Housemaster is working 2 days at CO. Now they are cutting one assistant principal at Norwalk High School.
- Special Education is not providing services to the special needs students and is violating IDEA-Lawyers filing due process claims with the State
- Look at the moral character of a man in a power position over people and policies. Alleged sexual harassment is not acceptable. This person makes decision about sexual harassment in the schools affecting our children.
- Adamowski came in and threw out all of the improvements from his predecessor Dr. Rivera
- It takes three years for curriculum changes to show an increase on test scores. The current increase in test scores is from the previous administration’s work. Adamowski will be responsible for the scores during 2017-2018
- Adamowski has not turned over control to schools under site based decision making and the School Governance Councils. He is telling School Governance Councils what to do and who should serve on these Councils: i.e., Bob Duff and Norwalk High School SGC
- Adamowski is abusing the taxpayers’ money. If we don’t get this under control now, we will end up like the other districts he left–bankrupt and kids failing
- Google the districts where Adamowski was and you can see a trail of failing schools, financial struggles and the same failing programs he is putting in Norwalk.
- Hartford, Wyndham, New London and Cincinnati. They are still trying to recover.
- The City will not realize the impact of Adamowski’s cuts and programs for another two to three years. By that time, he will be gone and the district will not be fully operational for years to come
- Cutting Central office administration would save a tremendous amount of money-almost equal to the deficit and not affect students or schools if they cut the administration on the 3rd floor.
It is time for Adamowski and his team to leave Norwalk NOW! His immediate departure is what is best for all Norwalk kids!!!
Board of Education members declined to comment. Adamowski said he’d need time to study the statement.
Under NAACP bylaws, the NAACP president is the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the branch.
The 2018-19 budget passed unanimously by the Board on Tuesday calls for the elimination of two unspecified Central Office positions.
“We are leaving open the final determination as to where reductions might be taken because we want to see where there might be vacancies,” Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton said at last week’s Finance Committee meeting, noting that there are “a number of staff movements taking place right now.”
NPS is “moving people around like puzzle pieces,” Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) Vice President Tony Ditrio said at last week’s rally in support of West Rocks Middle School Principal Lynne Moore.
The Pathways Academy at Briggs is being eliminated in the 2018-19 budget, and will be replaced by two blended learning classrooms at each high school, Hamilton said last week.
NPS Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo has been accused of making sexual advances on an employee when he was principal of the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven, before he came to Norwalk in 2015 to serve as NPS Chief Operating Officer. Costanzo and the New Haven Board of Education are being sued in federal court by the employee, Chanel Rice, for “unlawful and retaliatory conduct.” A settlement hearing is scheduled for July 12.
“All across the country there is sexual harassment going on. How come we have not done anything about sexual harassment being here at the Board of Ed?” Penn-Williams said at last week’s rally.
In October, the Board of Education voted 5-4 to authorize salary increases for seven NPS administrators. Three of the four Board members who voted against the increases are no longer on the Board, by choice: Yvel Crevecoeur, Sherelle Harris, and Artie Kassimis. Shirley Mosby failed to win reelection.
The raises represented a $65,000 increase in the budget, with Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek in October calling the move an adjustment to reflect market realities.
In 2013, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo resigned and took a position with higher pay with Westport Public Schools. In 2015, Chief Financial Officer Rich Rudl resigned for a position with higher pay with Wilton Public Schools.
Hamilton received a 3.5 percent raise, to $185,653. The range for the Chief Talent Officer was made $172,000 to $195,000 and the range for the Chief Communications Officer was increased to $112,000 to 139,000.
“This is an attempt to bring the same kind of order to the way the salaries are set for these positions as we have for all the other positions in the school system,” Mike Lyons said in October.
The 2017-18 budget added a communications executive secretary and a part-time communications writer.
At Tuesday’s BoE meeting, interim Chief Academic Officer Craig Creller said that the June 18 SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) results show Norwalk has increased its math scores in 2017-18.
“We are up 7.4 to 13.9 points at a time when the state will go about 3.4 points a year,” Creller said. “We are pretty excited to be about two to three times the normal growth rate in mathematics.”