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During the August 17 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, North Branford Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker (far right) discusses staffing transitions for the 2017-18 school year.

Pam Johnson/The Sound

During the August 17 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, North Branford Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker (far right) discusses staffing transitions for the 2017-18 school year. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

North Branford Back-to-School: Principal Transitions; District Lunch Cost Increase

Published Aug 18, 2017 • Last Updated 07:11 pm, August 18, 2017

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North Branford Public Schools (NBPS) opens the 2017-18 school year with a full day on Monday, August 28. At the town's two elementary schools, familiar faces will fill new roles as principal and interim principal; while the town also wishes all the best to a beloved principal who announced his retirement from the intermediate school. At all schools, lunch costs will be increasing by 25 cents per day.

North Branford High School (NBHS, grades 9 – 12) school hours are 7:30 a.m. until dismissal at 1:57 p.m. School hours for NBIS (grades 6 – 8) are 7:40 a.m. – 2:05 p.m.  Totoket Valley Elementary School (TVES grades 3 – 5) hours are 8:20 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. and Jerome Harrison Elementary School (JHS, grades Pre-K – 2) school hours are 9 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.  Students will get their first day off on Monday, Sept. 4 for Labor Day and there will be a district-wide early dismissal on Wednesday, Sept. 20, for staff Professional Development.

NBPS contracts Dattco as its bus carrier. Families of students can locate their child's bus assignment by logging in at the Powerschool Parent Portal Link here

Families also use the portal to deposit money into school lunch accounts, which will increase by 25 cents per day for the 2017-18 school year, as approved by BOE vote on August 17. Beginning with the new school year on August 28, school lunch costs will be $2.75 at JHS and TVES; $3.00 at NBIS and $3.25 at NBHS.

At the August 17 BOE meeting, NBPS Director of Personnel and Business Don Winnicki said the increase is needed to stay in compliance with National School Lunch program criteria, which also supplies free/reduced lunches to qualifying students. The program is administered by the federal government through the state.

Superintendent Discusses Staffing Changes

The district begins the new school year by extending heartfelt thanks, prayers and best wishes North Branford Intermediate School's (NBIS) Alan Davis, who has decided to retire from his role as NBIS principal, after 43 years of dedicated service as an administrator and math teacher with NPBS, said Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker.

At NBIS, Keith O'Rourke will continue as interim Principal and Meghan Ruszczyk will continue as interim Assistant Principal for the 2017 – 18 school year. In a letter sent in July, Schoonmaker notified NBIS staff of Davis' decision to retire. Schoonmaker also informed the staff that O'Rourke and Ruszczyk would continue their interim roles which began during the 2016-17 school year. He noted both administrators "... did an admirable job closing out this past school year under very difficult circumstances and are excited for the opportunity to continue leading North Branford Intermediate School."

O'Rourke had previously served as NBIS assistant principal and Ruszczyk as NBIS Dean of Students. They helped the school community and the town come together this spring to send a "Stay Strong" message of support to Davis, who began a leave of absence on April 18 while battling cancer.

The 2017-18 school year also brings noticeable principal changes to JHS and TVES, due to the resignation of former TVES Principal Dr. Kris Lindsay, who took a new role as Director of Pupil Services with Regional District 17 (Haddam/Killingworth). Schoonmaker appointed Carter Welch Ed.D. as the new TVES Principal and Beth Parker as JHS Interim Principal for the 2017-18 school year.

Welch joins TVES after completing his third year as principal of JHS. Prior to heading up JHS, Welch was assistant principal for North Branford High School (NBHS) and served the district in several program and department leadership roles. He was recently named UConn Neag School of Education's 2017 Outstanding School Administrator. Past accolades include being named a 2011 semi-finalist for National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Connecticut Assistant Principal of the Year; North Branford Teacher of the Year (2006), and recipient of educational awards from the Governor's Task Force on the Safe School Climate (2011) and UConn Neag School of Education Research Award (2011).

Parker, a JHS School Psychologist of nine years, also holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and is a past JHS Teacher of the Year (2014). She has served as JHS as Dean of Students since 2014 and as Safe School Climate Coordinator since 2012.

Welch was told Zip06/The Sound it was hard to leave JHS, but he looks forward to making a difference at TVES and for the school district.

"I feel like the work [at JHS] wasn't quite finished. That building was really taking off, and I was excited for that. So to know that Beth is taking over is a source of support and comfort; and I know it is for the staff, too," said Welch. "I feel like the two of us will work to bring K-5 together, which this district has not had in a long time, so I'm really excited about that."

Welch said he's looking forward to the work to be done at TVES with its "great staff" and will enjoy being reunited with many students he knows from their days with him at JHS.

"This is a great opportunity. There's a great staff, and I know all of the families and all the students, which is really nice," said Welch.

At the August 17 BOE meeting, Schoonmaker also discussed some district-wide staffing shifts and new hires brought on to fill teaching and other roles vacated by transitions and retirements. He said the only gap remaining to be filled is the Athletic Director (AD) position at NBHS, which had viable candidates and was expected to be filled before the school year begins. The AD position opened up following the resignation of Kory Kevorkian, who also resigned as an NBIS Health teacher, in order to accept a full-time AD position with Coginchaug Regional High School (Durham), said Schoonmaker.

All new staff will introduced by Schoonmaker during the annual NBPS Opening Convocation for all district teachers on August 24 at NBIS.

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