Proposed Norwalk schools IT chief has a familiar face

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Manuel Rivera didn’t waste any time in finding his new information technology guru, and he is no stranger to Norwalk — or to Rivera.

Ralph Valenzisi has been tapped by Rivera to be Norwalk Public Schools’ new chief of technology, innovation and partnerships. From 2006 to 2009, Valenzisi was the school system’s director of technology and, from 2004 to 2006, he served as instructional technology specialist.

Since leaving NPS, Valenzisi has been senior vice president for e-learning and educational technology for GEMS Education in New York City. Prior to accepting the superintendent’s position in Norwalk, Rivera was the CEO of GEMS, an international education company that owns and operates high-performing schools, according to its public relations materials. It also offers consulting services to both the public and private sectors.

Valenzisi’s hiring and contract are on the agenda for tonight’s (Sept. 3) Norwalk Board of Education meeting at 7:45 at City Hall. The agenda, Valenzisi’s resume and contract and other information are attached below.

When Rivera presented his senior staff reorganization plans to the Board of Education in August, he stressed the importance of upgrading the current IT director position to chief for technology, innovation and partnerships. The position will report directly to Rivera.

In his BOE presentation, he wrote, “This is another significantly enhanced role, with responsibilities including partnership building and management, strategic planning and systems development, driving technology related to innovations and other duties. Start date would be ASAP.”

According to the proposed contract, Valenzisi’s salary would be $175,000. The former IT director was paid $162,590. If the contract is approved tonight, he would begin his duties Wednesday.

“I’m going to look for somebody who is going to bring more to the table,” Rivera said after announcing his staff reorganization. “Someone who is able to work with me on expanding innovation to other schools. Let’s look at how we revamp or how we rethink potentially our libraries in a number of our schools.”

Other possible technological improvements would include real-time dashboards to track school performance, he said.

“I’m not quite up to speed on all we currently have, but I do have a vision of what I’d like to see operating for us,” he said.

Also on the BOE agenda is Deputy Superintendent Tony Daddona’s new contract. Daddona’s new title – he was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction – comes with a familiar salary of $199,875, the same as was budgeted before the title swap. Daddona, who served as interim superintendent to bridge the gap between Susan Marks’ resignation and Rivera’s hiring, will handle the day-to-day administrative chores, Rivera said earlier, while the new superintendent concentrates on improving the schools and preparing for the full switch to the new Common Core Standards next year as prescribed by the state.

Also on tonight’s agenda are discussions regarding student and teach social media and communication policy and student-run café policy, as well as the BOE meeting schedule for the coming year.

BOE agenda, click here: BOE Agenda 9-3-13

Resume, contracts and more, click here: Contracts, social media policy, student cafe policy


9 responses to “Proposed Norwalk schools IT chief has a familiar face”

  1. renton

    Must be nice to be the Mayor’s nephew…..

  2. Norwalk Spectator

    I can actually remember the presentation that some of the high school students made before Ralph left the District. One of the students spoke about how it literally took five minutes to boot up one of the computers in the high school computer lab and pointed out that there was only one old printer that actually worked. I know Dr. Rivera is looking forward to the future, but I just want to point out the District has come a LONG, LONG way in terms of technology since that presentation was given.

  3. TLawton

    Maybe he help straighten out the garbage pick up too. After reviewing the City of Norwalk’s website and confirming:
    Garbage & Recycling Collection for Labor Day – Monday September 2
    Upcoming Holiday Garbage & Recycling Collection

    There will be no collection of municipal garbage or recycling on Labor Day – Monday September 2, 2013. If your normal pick up day is on or after the holiday, your pick up will be one day later. For example: Monday pick up will be on Tuesday, Tuesday pick up will be on Wednesday, Wednesday pick up will be on Thursday, Thursday pick up will be on Friday and Friday pick up will be on Saturday.

    The City Carting garbage trucks worked our neighborhood today -Tuesday, the normal pick up day after the website clearly states that pick up would be a day later. Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?? Way to go Hal Alvord.

    Editor’s note: What neighborhood are you talking about. We would like to follow up and find out what went wrong. You can email us at [email protected]

  4. More of the same

    Here we go again. Looks like an NPS retread being brought on to run IT.

    This time at $175K a year, like an IT manager who runs larger organizations for less can’t possibly be found. Hint: They can if you looked for them.

    They are so sloppy and rushed with the contracts, the termination clause references the CFO in the unpaid accrued sick time provision rather than this IT position. Which, by the way, we are still giving 70 full days pay and allowing them to accrue up to 18 days sick time a year. Hello, real world. Does anyone get this? Wouldn’t this be a nice time to cut this crap out? Can someone at least take the time to read the contracts and write them out correctly?

    Besides this…

    No formal education or work experience in technology other than being a buddy of Dr. Rivera’s from his old employer. So I guess we are supposed to go all in for Rivera and just hope everything works out fine.

    And I’ll say it before others do to save them time. I know, I know asking these basic questions means you are against Rivera. So just shut up and pay more taxes, otherwise you are against education of our children.

    Are we taxpayers doomed or what?

    The last guy may have been stealing from the city, but at least he had the formal education to support his position. I mean can any one explain why we should pay an extra $12k in salary or are we just supposed to eat it? Will the usual response be that it is only .0001% of the budget so we shouldn’t concern ourselves?

    Thanks to anyone who can explain.

  5. More of the same

    In Ralph’s defense he does seem tech savvy on his resume. I’d like to hear that he is taking a significant pay cut for this position or I’d like to hear reasons why someone without formal technological education or certifications is the best choice for the job. In the real world, if you don’t have a computer science degree you had better have some type of tech certifications. Anything less won’t even get you looked at. Don’t we deserver more here?

  6. Renton

    They are recycling him because HE’S THE MAYOR’S NEPHEW!

  7. Renton

    Ralph, although a nice guy (knew him when my kids were in NPS), is barely qualified for this job. As a previous poster mentioned, no formal computer education, which in any other “World” would be required.

    What’s bothering me the most is, HE’S THE MAYOR’S NEPHEW. I know more qualified people who were looking at this job, but never were called. THIS IS WHY IT’S TIME FOR MOCCIA TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. More of the same

    Looks like a lot of material here for NON to expose further. Can’t wait for the follow up pieces. If this is nepotism, it is disgusting and totally unacceptable.

  9. Anne Sullivan

    Perhaps we could offer to proof read his resume…

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