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Norwalk Board of Ed COO Longo resigns

Norwalk Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo will be missed, Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said.

Updated, 12:16 p.m., Tuesday with quote from Steve Colarossi

NORWALK, Conn. – Elio Longo, Norwalk’s chief operating officer for Norwalk Public Schools, has resigned, Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said Monday night. Longo is going to the Westport school system. His last day with Norwalk will be June 30.

Longo, who spent about 1½ years in the job, called interim Superintendent Tony Daddona and gave him the news after Monday’s Westport Board of Education meeting, sources said. BOE members were notified by email at about 10:18 p.m. Monday. 

“Elio was a transformational person for us,” Lyons said. “He came into a financial operation that can be charitably called chaotic and really started straightening things out.”

Longo is credited with finding numerous bookkeeping errors in the Board of Education budget, most notably the $4 million deficit in the insurance accounts that led to massive cuts in the school budget last year.

“Nobody else even knew it was there,” Lyons said. But, he said, that was just the beginning of Longo’s impact.

“He has done a tremendous job in guiding us back to having a really quality financial system,” he said. “There are problems now, but they’re not self-imposed. He ended the self-created budget problems.”

Longo began his service with Norwalk schools in November 2011 after working for 10 years in Danbury as finance director of its public schools.

Longo will replace retiring Westport School Business Administrator Nancy Harris, according to WestportNow.com, with a salary of $185,000. Longo made $180,281 in 2012, Norwalk documents show.

“Westport has a fine school system,” Lyons said. “I’m sure there are several positive reasons for him to want to go there.”

BOE member Sue Haynie said she saw the email at about 10:30 p.m.

“I’m crushed,” she said. “He was the most honest guy. In the year he was here, he was a miracle worker.”

She said that was due to Longo’s demeanor is the midst of crisis.

“The calm deliberate way he did business, he is such a straight shooter, he is just a pleasure,” she said. “It’s big loss for Norwalk, just gigantic.”

Steven Colarrosi sent out a tweet. “Elio Longo has been an innovative COO who has made a lasting contribution to our students – plus, he’s a great guy,” he said.

Lisa Brinton Thomson said something similar. ” A man with integrity, who brought fiscal law order to Norwalk,” she said in an email. “A huge loss.”

Lyons said there is a silver lining, the presence of new Chief Financial Officer Rich Rudl.

“Rich is the person who has developed the new budget system and budget document, he knows it inside out,” Lyons said. “We’re not facing a return to chaos. The problem in the past has been one guy doing the finances. That one guy leaves and chaos returns.”

Still, Longo is not going to be easy to replace,” Lyons said.

“He’s professional, easy to work with, with a good sense of humor,” Lyons said. “He’s very, very smart. This is a loss, no question about it.”

Comments

18 responses to “Norwalk Board of Ed COO Longo resigns”

  1. Tim T

    “Nobody else even knew it was there,” Lyons said
    Not for nothing but that is not something the BOE should be bragging about.

  2. Mike Barbis

    Tim T: have you ever had a positive thing to say? Why don’t you run for office and do something instead of just complaining!

  3. Ergo

    Well, it must be a cold day in hell, for I agree with Tim T! It’s the truth, the BOE should be ashamed that they “lost” $4 million. “Nobody else even knew it was there,” Lyons said. *snort*

    Thank you Elio Longo for doing your job and doing it well.

  4. Kinda like what Andy Garfunkel might say about the missing money during his tenure.

    It also seems like there were other quotes to print but “selected” ones to fill the democratic agenda made its way to this “news” forum. But we will never know.

  5. Tom

    What a shame!!! Norwalk loses another highly-qualified, competent person. Different day, same story. Wake up folks. Things need to change.

  6. Lanny Duckette

    Tim, don’t worry about the comment from (Mike Barbis) …I already heard it said that Barbis was reason number one that Longo is out the door.

    (Editor’s note: This comment was edited to conform to our comment guidelines)

  7. Just to keep the record straight, I joined the BoE in late November, 2011. Mr. Longo told us about the $4 million shortfall three months later. I was not part of the BoE when that shortfall was run up, and I have led the effort to upgrade our financial operations (including adding a CFO), something I had pledged to do in my 2011 campaign for office.

  8. P I Berman

    Capable people create careers by moving on to more challenging environments. Senior administrators in municipal gov’t often grow stale and out of touch with new developments and techniques. So rather than morn here’s an opportunity to hire another first rate administrator and benefit from a different skills set. One has only to look at the long in the saddle administrators at City Hall to see the disadvantages of long tenured officials. And elected officials. Changing key personnel is the mark of vibrant organizations. So let’s wish Mr Longo a well done and seek a worthy successor.

  9. Oda Hkst

    Who is going to play the blame game for this resignation? Will we hear from Haynie who had plenty of blame when Marks’ quit? Or maybe she’ll figure out that her constant demands for reports makes people want to quit?

  10. Steve Colarossi

    In addition to his honesty, innovation and dedication, Elio brought a warmth and good cheer to his position. He will be missed professionally and personally by all who had the good fortune to have worked with him.

  11. Mr Norwalk Ct

    Mike Barbis
    As soon as I see something positive happen from this aadministration I will be happy to point it out.
    Irish Girl
    What you failed to mention is that it wad Andys forward thinking that purchased the equipment that allow ed the issues in the clerks office.

  12. Mr Norwalk Ct

    Continued from previous post
    Should read
    that allowed the issues in the clerks office to be uncovered.

  13. Worried Parent

    Why would anyone want to deal with ridiculous demands from Sue Haynie? I hear she is relentless in demanding spreadsheets and reports but can’t understand them. Then all she does is pass them to her puppet masters in the RedApples. She’s been asked to stop it, but won’t listen and the BOE Chairman isn’t doing anything.

  14. Tom Keegan

    I believe it’s time that the Norwalk Public School system begin to “groom” our leaders/administrators from within. Too often our best candidate available, found via a national search gets hired and arrives in Norwalk with one eye already on the door. It appears that they stay for a year or two and when things get tough or they find a better job offer …they are gone…and we, the parents, are left holding the bag. The school system needs consistency….Let’s hire a new Superintendent/Chief Operating Officer that has a stake in our City, our school system and our kids.

  15. BARIN

    Absolutely in agreement Mr. Keegan.

  16. So Mr Norwalk CT
    You and tim rebuke the BoE for “losing” money and praise Andy for the (almost) the same thing.

    Money was stolen under Andy’s watch…And it does not mean “lost/misappropriated” within line items or any other accounting mean but a criminal offense!

    Can you say HYPOCRITE?

  17. Peter I Berman

    Let’s encourage the proper focus. To it’s credit the BOE (whose books are audited by the City) did hire a competent professional in the person of Mr. Longo. And eventually hired a CFO. Those are characteristics of an improving BOE. More so the extra ordinarily 2.6 million dollar saving from a historic arbitration effort led by Ms. Haynie, Mr. Lyons and BOE Chair Chiamonte. Most knowledgeable observers familiar with the BOE believe the current BOE has the strongest leadership in decades. We all benefit from a competent BOE.

    On the issue of promoting from within that requires a well functioning organization that regularly attracts efforts to hire away it’s most outstanding employees. So far that hadn’t been occurring within the BOE. Hence the search for a Supt outside with recognized abilities and a replacement for Mr. Longo. Norwalk is well known throughout the state for it’s long tenured employees who remain on the job apparently for lengthy periods. The market speaks loudly here. Norwalk senior administers are not often recruited away to more challenging positions. Not surprising given excessive salaries paid by our elected officials. Norwalk residents seem content with paying punitive taxes to fund excessive salaries to senior administrators with de facto tenure. Those who object put “for sale” signs up voting with their feet.

  18. Oldtimer

    If Elio is as good as everyone is saying, and there is no reason to doubt it, why is Norwalk losing him over a $5,000 pay increase ? Are we that short-sighted ? Has Westport offered some benefit Norwalk can’t, or won’t match ?

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