Category Archives: Christina Kishimoto

Updated: Kishimoto Accepts Superintendent Job In AZ

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has been named one of two finalists for the superintendent’s post in Gilbert, Ariz.

The Arizona Republic’s Karen Schmidt has reported that 82 people applied for the job in the 39,000-student district and that its governing board expects to decide on a final choice by mid-February. The board plans to meet tonight.

UPDATE: Kishimoto accepted the job.

As many know, Hartford is conducting its own superintendent search after the city school board rejected Kishimoto’s request for a contract extension last June.

Coincidentally, Ray and Associates, Inc., hired to lead Hartford’s search, is also the firm that advertised the Gilbert Public Schools vacancy.

What Hartford Seeks In Next Superintendent

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

After months of secrecy from Hartford’s superintendent search committee, a wish list of qualities sought in the next schools chief has finally emerged.

Ray and Associates, Inc., the Iowa firm hired to lead the search, has posted a six-page profile and job listing on its website. The consultant expects that it will present the ideal candidate by the end of March; the school board wants a new superintendent by July 1.

Job applications are being accepted until March 5.

Ray will be paid a $24,000 base fee and is contracted to find two to three finalists for the search committee to interview, according to Ray’s agreement with the city of Hartford, which was released to Cityline this afternoon after a Freedom of Information request.

The committee wants a successor to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto who can be a master communicator — someone who will promote “a realistic image of schools and the school district” and “be an effective champion for children’s education and the system that provides it,” among many other characteristics.

Here are some of the other qualifications listed in the profile:

  • “A record of delivering innovative, impactful, sustainable solutions. Incremental improvements may be part of the solution, but alone they will not meet the city leaders’ expectation that our school system be a real and respected asset for the larger community. Accordingly, the next superintendent must be innovative to his or her core — but we require a leader whose reputation is grounded on impact, not just ideas.”
  • “At minimum, the next superintendent will combine strong academic credentials with at least 15 years of successful professional and managerial experience in highly demanding environments.”
  • “Understand how education is impacted by local, state, national, and international events. The next superintendent has a deep understanding of the issues in Hartford.”
  • “Demonstrate the ability to utilize data for instructional decision making and improvement.”

The profile also notes that “among the assets available to the next superintendent are a mayor, board of education and deep bench of leaders from all sectors — business, academic, civic, nonprofit and faith-based entities — who are serious about the quality of education being provided to our children.”

The new superintendent would receive a salary “in the range of $250,000, excluding benefits,” according to the Ray and Associates’ job listing.

Kishimoto’s current salary is $238,000. Her contract ends June 30.

Poland Won’t Seek Third Term As BOE Chairman

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Pedro Segarra, Schools Date:

Matthew Poland, the head of the school board, has revealed publicly that he does not plan to seek a third year as chairman when the board elects new officers in February.

“I told the mayor today that I will not stand for re-election as board chairman, and so this is going to be someone else’s job to lead the board of education in Hartford,” Poland said at Thursday night’s meeting of the city council’s education committee. He will continue to serve the remainder of his four-year board term, however.

“I need to move on and do the work I need to do with the library,” said Poland, who is CEO of the Hartford Public Library. (Serving as school board chairman is a volunteer post.)

Here’s a video recording of the meeting, courtesy of Achieve Hartford. Poland’s specific comments begin around the 43:20 mark.

UPDATE: In a letter to the board dated Friday, Poland says he will not seek another term as chairman. “I am an optimist at heart so I know that together, fully committed to our children, we can make a real difference.” More here.

Maribel La Luz, Segarra’s spokeswoman, told Cityline today that “once there is a complete board, the mayor will express his choice for chairman.” Segarra plans to appoint a new member to the board in the coming weeks to replace Cherita McIntye, who moved out of state.

Poland officially joined the board on Feb. 7, 2012, when he and four other mayoral appointees took their oath of office. At that same meeting, the board voted to make Poland its chairman. Poland kept that leadership position last February when the board held its annual election of officers, and has overseen a number of newsmaking decisions, including the board’s vote last June to reject Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s request for a contract extension.

During Thursday’s meeting, Poland said Ray and Associates, the Iowa search firm chosen to find Hartford’s next schools chief, is finalizing its contract with search committee co-chairmen Jose Colon-Rivas and Robert Cotto Jr.

Poland also told council members that the search panel has been working on a list of competencies that will be required of the new superintendent, who would take over on July 1. He said that list has not been finalized, and that, generally, the committee’s “proceedings are confidential because it’s a personnel matter.”

One of the traits the committee will be seeking is someone with a proven record of being a “collaborative” leader, Cotto said.

Following the tenure of former Hartford schools chief Steven Adamowski, who shook up the district with his reform plans, Poland said, “the next leader needed to be a builder, and that’s what we need to find.”

Later in the meeting, after Achieve Hartford! executive director Paul Holzer asked about attracting candidates to Connecticut’s capital city, Poland had this to say: “I think that Hartford, wherever we recruit, has a difficult time. The nature of what people hear about our city often limits candidates. And I think what we have to do is make sure we’re clear about both the local challenges that we face and that we want someone who will take that on. This is not a job where you come and … you’re comfortable all the time. You better not be comfortable. Right? You want to be challenged all the time. We have huge, huge mountains to climb.”

Poland also warned at the meeting against releasing — or “leaking” — information on applicants until the finalists are formally announced.

“Once you start getting the leaks of, ‘This superintendent has applied, that superintendent has applied,’ oftentimes good people will disappear,” said Poland, who is no longer serving on the search committee. New school board member Beth Taylor took his spot.

“So we do have to be very cautious about that until we have the final candidates,” Poland said. He added that the community will have the opportunity to meet the finalists before the board’s vote.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, city Councilman David MacDonald — Hartford’s former school board chairman when Kishimoto was hired to lead the district — emphasized the importance of the search.

“I would dare say that the selection of the superintendent is the most important vote that you will take as a board of education member,” MacDonald said. “You need to select someone who will be a good partner with you.”

Kishimoto: ‘We’ve Got To Work Together’

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

Lately, it seems that every public update we get on the Hartford superintendent search is another reminder of the awkwardness between the school board and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who is often sitting a foot or two away when those updates are announced.

Kishimoto was a deputy to former schools chief Steven Adamowski when she ascended to the top job in summer 2011. Last year, tensions exploded between Kishimoto and the board, which voted in June to deny her request for a contract extension. Her employment with the district is set to end in mid-2014.

Generally, though, it’s been a difficult  past  several weeks for city school leadership.

At Thursday night’s school board meeting, Kishimoto spoke for about four minutes on the “tension” and a need to overcome it. Her comments, which Cityline has transcribed below, were a conciliatory plea and holiday message wrapped into one off-the-cuff speech:

“I think we’re at a point in the school year where … as superintendent, I recognize that we have an incredible amount of tension in this district right now. I want to recognize that, one, we have leadership changes on the board that are forthcoming, and with any leadership change, there’s that period in which we want to make sure that transition is smooth.

“We also have a superintendent search that has started while your superintendent is sitting in this seat. There is certainly tension in that, as well. And I want it stated because I think that, while it’s obvious, we are all trying to tip-toe around all that tension.

“And as we go into the holidays, I just want to thank everybody for just being resilient. It is so important for us to stay laser-focused on being student-centered in all of our work. That does not mean we all make the right decisions all the time, but it should certainly mean that when the wrong decision is made, that we still stay at the table together, roll up our sleeves and say, ‘How do we fix this? How do we make this better?’ The fact is that we are a better district than when we started this reform in 2007, and in a few years, we’re going to be even better. We have to keep at this until every student is in a great school. And what’s happening is that there is impatience — for good reason.

“Every child should be in a great school right now, and that’s not what we have. But we cannot start being divisive with one another and let this tension overpower us …

“We know that words are extremely powerful. We know that social media is part of our community and our way of life now. And we know that social media and words can be used to be destructive, or they can be used to be empowering to share information. And I’m hoping that we can all, as we go into the holidays, take a break and come back and be absolutely recommitted to choosing our words carefully, working together, remembering that we are here only for the kids and our young people.

“We have an incredible responsibility to prepare our future leaders. They are in our hands and we’ve got to work together, because our children matter and this community matters. So I wanted to recognize that because the work is tough. There’s nothing easy about that at any place that you are, whether you’re a staff member or a parent, a community leader, a board member, a city official — this work is tough, but it is so critical because none of our children are expendable.

“As your superintendent, certainly for the next six months, and as a leader in this district for the last nine years, there is nothing I’m more passionate about than making sure that every child has access to great, quality education. I want this work to continue with every leader that comes after me, at every level in this district.

“And with that, I want to say … I wish everyone a merry Christmas. We will continue this work. I will not let up, and I will make sure that I complete my work here, just as we need to continue and complete this work. The tension is part of change, but we need to work through this and we can’t let it overpower us. And I wanted to just recognize that.”

Iowa Firm Chosen For Superintendent Search

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

Hartford’s 13-member superintendent search committee has chosen Ray and Associates Inc., an executive consulting firm from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to find the city’s next schools leader.

The city informed Gary Ray, the firm’s president, in a letter this week that the contract is being awarded to his company after the city issued a request for proposals. We’re told that the panel, which has met three times, had considered three firms behind closed doors.

A copy of Ray and Associates’ proposal to the city was not immediately available. The firm specializes in superintendent searches and is heading Baltimore’s efforts to find a new schools CEO.

“We appreciate your time and effort in preparing this proposal and look forward to doing business with your company,” wrote William Diaz, a procurement specialist for the city. “A contract will be sent to your attention soon for your signature.”

The contract to conduct a national search would be for $24,000, according to school board chairman Matthew Poland.

Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s contract expires June 30, 2014. The school board decided not to renew her contract and is looking to find a schools chief by springtime.

BOE To Reconsider Sheff Magnet School Proposals

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

The city board of education has scheduled a special meeting Monday to reconsider two magnet school proposals that the board rejected earlier this week.

Plans to create the Capital Community College Senior Academy, a partnership magnet school with Capital Community College, will likely move forward, according to a meeting agenda posted late this afternoon. The board will also be asked to approve converting High School, Inc., a finance and insurance academy downtown, to a Sheff magnet school, starting with 9th grade in 2014-15.

Both magnet programs would be part of the state’s negotiated settlement for 2014-15 with plaintiffs in the longstanding Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation case.

The board voted 5-3 late Tuesday to reject the magnet school proposals after an hours-long executive session. As you might recall, much controversy surrounded one of the original Sheff proposals: A plan to turn over management of SAND Elementary School to a nonprofit company run by Capital Prep Magnet Principal Steve Perry.

After parent and union outcry — SAND families were informed of the proposal less than a week earlier — the board decided to remove the plan from the overall Sheff vote Tuesday. But in an outcome that appeared to surprise several members of the board, a majority voted around 11 p.m. to reject the magnet school proposals, as well.

Monday’s special meeting will also request that the board authorize Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to “identify at least three (3) neighborhood and/or community schools as potential Lighthouse Schools, as well as the model(s) which may be implemented.”

Something to note: the SAND plan that was rejected had been proposed as a “lighthouse” school design.

The special meeting agenda also states that “the criteria to be used by the Superintendent in making these determinations shall include those used in considering re-designs, as well as any other relevant considerations. Thereafter, the Superintendent shall conduct one or more community forums to discuss the schools and models so identified. Based on the results of said community forum(s), the Superintendent shall determine whether one or more of the schools and/or models so identified should be removed from consideration and whether a school and/or model not already so identified should be considered. After making these determinations, the Superintendent shall identify one (1) neighborhood school as a potential Lighthouse School, based on whether the school has the potential to meet the Lighthouse school goals. Specifically, does the school have conditions necessary for school quality improvement and increasing natural diversity? The Superintendent shall meet with and consider the input of the School Governance Councils, other PTOs, other interested parents, other stakeholders, and the faculty and administration of said school. Based on the foregoing, the Superintendent shall recommend to the Board of Education one school for conversion to a Lighthouse School as well as the proposed model.”

Translation: The school system will seek significant input from the community this time. Remember what happened with the Clark School proposal just last week?

It’s unclear after this uproar whether the school system will continue to consider Steve Perry as a potential management leader for a “lighthouse” school design.

Hartford 2013 Test Scores Are Released

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

We know that standardized test scores are only one measure of a school’s success. But they are important in Hartford, where administrators try to arrange their vacations so they can be here for the results, and a boost in scores can mean performance bonuses for an entire school staff.

On the other hand, not accelerating the “pace” of the district’s reform can be a factor for whether the superintendent’s contract is extended.

The state Department of Education released the 2013 scores yesterday, showing a statewide decline across all subjects and grade levels on the Connecticut Mastery Test, the last year the exam will be administered to all schools. (The state is transitioning next year to a new computerized test that is aligned with the tougher Common Core State Standards.)

Statewide scores on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test for 10th-graders show slight gains in math, science and reading, but mostly flat results for writing. There was a percentage-point decline for students reaching the writing “goal.”

In Hartford, there was a dip in CAPT math and writing, a small gain in reading and a more noticeable increase in science, where the city’s sophomores improved from 17.2 to 19.1 percent meeting the “goal.” On the “proficiency” benchmark, science scores rose from 46.2 to 52. 9 percent in one year — still well below the statewide “goal” and “proficiency” averages of 49 percent and 81.7 percent, but worth noting.

But at Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, the magnet school’s scores dropped in science, from nearly 35 percent meeting the goal in 2012 down to 26.1 percent this year. Meanwhile, Pathways To Technology Magnet High School improved its science scores by 6.4 percentage points of sophomores meeting the goal.

The results at the city’s non-magnet high schools are a mixed bag and all far, far below statewide averages. Bulkeley High’s Lower School’s modest improvement in science — out of 200 students tested in that subject, 3.5 percent met the goal and 32 percent were proficient — is countered by a drop in CAPT-tested math skills, for instance. Students achieving the math goal dropped to 3.6 percent, while those “proficient” declined from 47.3 to 28.6 percent in one year.

At the Journalism and Media Academy, science was slightly up but the scores showed a decrease in reading. The percentage of 10th graders reaching the reading goal, for example, went from 11.4 to 8.9 percent in 2013.

Cityline plans to review the Hartford data more closely today, but other early observations include across the board gains for the district in sixth-grade subjects, with particular improvement at Kinsella, Kennelly, West Middle and Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School. Noticed a significant drop in sixth-grade scores for Burns and Batchelder, however.

In the remaining grades tested on the CMT, the districtwide averages appear to be largely stagnant: A mix of upticks and declines across grades, subjects and mastery levels compared to 2012. (Update: There is a noticeable decline in Hartford fifth- and seventh-graders meeting proficiency in math, and if considering cohorts of students, an improvement in 2013 fifth-grade writing compared to last year’s grade 4 results.)

‘Tis The Season For … Hartford Graduations

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

It’s that time of year in Hartford when more than a dozen city high schools will be holding their graduations in a two-week span. Good thing our Courant summer interns have arrived!

2013 graduation dates

Opportunity High School graduated 45 students last night. The adult education ceremony also was held Thursday, and tonight, it will be Capital Prep sending off its seniors in the school gymnasium.

Twelve graduations are scheduled for next week.

In addition, the Hartford Parent University we wrote about last fall gave certificates and $200 stipends Wednesday to 25 parents who completed the required 10 classes on how to advocate for their children. The parent-led program, founded by Executive Director Milly Arciniegas, began last November.

Wednesday’s ceremony was held at Capital Community College and featured guests such as state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Achieve Hartford’s Paul Holzer and CT Parent Power’s Marilyn Calderon. (Here’s a video clip of Holzer’s remarks. Achieve Hartford also wrote about the event in this newsletter.)

Congratulations to the parent leaders and all of Hartford’s graduates.

At front, Hartford Parent University's Milly Arciniegas stands with Superintendent Christina Kishimoto (right). Behind them are parent leaders.

In front, Hartford Parent University’s Milly Arciniegas stands with Superintendent Christina Kishimoto (right). Behind them are parent leaders. Photo courtesy of Hartford Parent University.

2013 Hartford Teacher Of The Year

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

Mario Marrero, who teaches fourth-grade at Betances STEM Magnet School, was named the city’s teacher of the year during an awards banquet Thursday night. You can view a video of the announcement here.

We wrote about Hartford’s three finalists recently and heard from students who love Marrero and his disciplined classroom.

Marrero joined the school system soon after graduating from college in 2006. For four years he taught at Milner School, where his mother was once a vice principal. He came to Betances STEM after Milner became a turnaround school in the state Commissioner’s Network last summer.

Marrero said it was difficult to leave Milner, where he tutored students after school and coached the middle grades basketball team. But he considers the move a “blessing in disguise.”

The other finalists were Joe Battaglia, an English teacher at Opportunity High School, and David Mangus, the lead science teacher at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto noted earlier this week that it was unusual all three finalists were male.

Congrats to everyone for a well-deserved recognition.

Mario Marrero reacts as he is named 2013 Hartford Teacher of the Year. Marrero is sitting with his fiancee Jing Sun, and his sister Mayra Marrero. Clapping at left is Betances STEM Assistant Principal Tyrone Richardson. His mother, Evelyn Marrero, is in the background. SHANA SURECK photo.

Mario Marrero reacts as he is named 2013 Hartford Teacher of the Year. Marrero is sitting with his fiancee Jing Sun, and his sister Mayra Marrero. Clapping at left is Betances STEM Assistant Principal Tyrone Richardson. His mother, Evelyn Marrero, is in the background. SHANA SURECK photo.

Close Weaver High Building After School Year?

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:
Photo by Vanessa de la Torre.

Photo by Vanessa de la Torre

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has proposed closing the Weaver High School building after this academic year and moving the culinary arts program to the Lincoln Culinary Institute for a three-year period.

As I reported yesterday, the fact that Weaver’s Journalism and Media Academy will be relocating to its new, permanent location on Tower Avenue means that roughly 300 culinary arts students would be left at the Granby Street building until major renovations begin in the next couple of years. (Assuming that the state approves Hartford’s construction grant application.)

Kishimoto told a school board committee this week that such an option brings security concerns. “I am not comfortable keeping that school open for such a small number of students,” she said. Read the full story here.

If the $100 million renovation for Weaver is rubber-stamped, there will come a time when students must be moved. The school will become a construction zone. The question, Kishimoto said, is whether that interim relocation should begin this year or next year.

Board members are expected to discuss her proposal in the next several weeks.