WPCNR Midnight Extra. By John F. Bailey. Special to WPCNR from Michelle Schoenfeld. April 17, 2002. UPDATED 1:30 AM EDT: The White Plains City School District announced Tuesday the Board of Education and a City Screening Committee have selected Timothy P. Connors, 62, an educator of 36 years’ experience, and retiring Superintendent of the Danbury, Connecticut schools, as their “Finalist” to succeed Dr. Saul Yanofsky and run White Plains Schools.
THE MAN FROM DANBURY:Timothy Connors, Danbury Superintendent of Schools, coming to White Plains.
Photo by Tim Wheeler, Used with Permission, Courtesy of the Danbury News-Times(c)
Mr. Connors is reported by the Danbury News-Times to have reached verbal agreement with the White Plains City School District for a salary of $197,000 a year to succeed Yanofsky.
Described by Tony White, Night Editor of the Danbury News-Times as a “wizard with the public,” with a record of uplifting Danbury’s test scores on the Connecticut Mastery Tests, Connors is as beloved in the Danbury School District as Saul Yanofsky has been in White Plains.
According to the official news release from the School District, Mr. Connors will visit White Plains on Tuesday, April 23, to meet the staff. That evening, the public will have an opportunity to meet Mr. Connors at 8 PM in the Assembly Room at Education House.
“A Wizard with the Public”
According to Tony White, Night Editor of the Danbury News-Times, which broke the story of Mr.Connors resignation in Danbury and his going to White Plains, Connors’ “strong suit” is his “ability to charm the patrons.” White said Connors is leaving for White Plains for a salary of $197,000, which is $66,000 more than he is being paid now as Superintendent at Danbury ($131,000).
In a follow-up story, Ms. McLaughlin is reported as expecting Mr. Connors to sign a three year contract with White Plains.
Editor White reports to WPCNR that Connors sees coming to White Plains, in the editor’s words, “a challenge. It is a bigger budget and a bigger district, bigger salary.”
Connors cites need to “shore up” his retirement as reason for resigning
In the story reporting Mr. Connors announced retirement over the weekend from the Danbury district, News-Times reporter Eileen FitzGerald writes of the retirement vice that Mr. Connors was in. She reports Mr. Connors is the latest in the drain of topflight administrators from the Connecticut school system, who leave the system close to retirement because of the way their pension is computed.
In the Connecticut school system, she writes, a teacher working 35 years in the state, receives a “retirement package” worth 70% of the average of their three highest salaries. However, in Mr. Connors’ case this would be substantially less. Mr. Connors has worked in Connecticut as Superintendent of the Danbury schools for five years, and in Connecticut for an additional six years.
Connors is reported in the News-Times article as telling the Danbury Board of Education over the weekend that he made the decision to resign after analyzing his retirement package. He did not, according to the news report, appear to reveal he was leaving for a new position. The News-Times reports him as indicating his “options for his next move are open.”
Editor calls him “very good.”
Mr. White, the News-Times Night Editor, in an interview with WPCNR, described Mr. Connors as “very good at dealing with the city council which decides his budget,” and “a very capable guy,” not a “yes man,” who, Mr.White says, “will stand his ground,” but is also very “diplomatic, knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.”
McLaughlin of White Plains says Connors will continue tradition
Donna O. McLaughlin, in the official news release of the White Plains City School Board, said that Mr. Connors has the experience and record of success the Board is seeking.
“The White Plains Schools have been blessed with outstanding leadership over the years,” McLaughlin said, in an official statement, “and we are confident that Mr. Connors will continue that tradition.”
McLaughlin is quoted by the News-Times last night as saying of Connors, “We’ve seen that he’s done a lot of terrific things for Danbury. We are looking for him to bring us to the next level.”
19 years’ Superintendent experience.
Mr. Connors, who is married and whose wife teaches in the Brookfield, Connecticut school system, has been a School Superintendent for 19 years in Bloomington, Minnesota (a district close to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul), and Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where he was named 1990 Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year. He presently is President of the Western Connecticut Superintendents’ Association, and the Connecticut Association of Urban Schools.
Danbury in arms over his loss
The city of Danbury appears to be going through the same shock White Plains experienced when our city first learned that Dr. Yanofsky’s contract would not be renewed last September.
Connors is described as a Superintendent enjoying the same popularity Dr. Saul Yanofsky has enjoyed in White Plains. Connors, like Yanofsky, is known by children throughout Danbury and in the classrooms as the superintendent, and they shout his name when they see him in parades and when he visits their classrooms.
“Man of Action.”
The former Chairman of the Danbury Board of Education who hired Connors five years ago, described Connors, in the News-Times as a man of action, and his experience is a striking parallel to Dr. Yanofsky’s last 4 years:
Danbury Voters passed two bond packages, paying for new roofs and boilers and a new science wing and track at the high school. Presently he has been honchoing plans for an elementary magnet school, funded by the state and a new elementary school.
Though White Plains enrollment is predicted to be stable for the next few years, three of its elementary schools are aging, and any increase in enrollment will need a new elementary school. Connors’ familiarity with problems White Plains is facing now and might face in the future appear to be a good fit.
Connors calls White Plains ‘a great opportunity’.
The News-Times in a report filed by Eileen FitzGerald last night quotes Mr. Connors as describing White Plains as “looking to make sure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Professionally, it’s a great opportunity.”
Ms. FitzGerald also reports that the White Plains City School District will pay into Social Security, something that Connecticut does not pay educators. She reports Connors as saying “That’s a significant enhancement, and I will position myself better financially for retirement.” Connors is reportedly going to resign from his Danbury position April 24.
Achievement Gap Closer
In his five years with the Danbury schools, Mr. Connors is credited by Thomas Murphy, of the Connecticut Department of Education in Ms. FitzGerald’s article, as having been “doing good work around closing the achievement gap.” The Mayor of Danbury, Mark Boughton, who taught under Mr. Connors, said Connors made the School District working environment better and inspired teachers to become more enthusiastic.
Thirty-six years in education, with teaching experience.
Mr. Connors, reports the City School District, is a graduate of Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and has a Masters Degree and Certificate of Advanced Studies from Harvard. He was a participant in the Urban Superintendents Program at Harvard. Mr. Connors taught social studies, and as been a Superintendent of Schools for 19 years. He was Superintendent for 10 years in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 4 years in Bloomington, Minnesota, and 5 years in Danbury, Connecticut.
One of Two Finalists
The City School District, in their official announcement said that the search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates had considered candidates from nine states and Washington, D.C. After interviewing a short list of six candidates, the Board selected a final three candidates. They were then interviewed by a City Citizens’ Committee, made up of the presidents of the Civil Service, Teachers and Administrators and Supervisors Associations, a representative of the Superintendent’s Cabinet, the PTA and the community at large.
McLaughlin said she hoped many members of the community and the School District staff would come to the community forum on April 23. The District, in a statement, said that, if the site visit and contract formalities “go as anticipated” Mr. Connors will be Dr. Saul Yanofsky’s successor.
For the complete Danbury News-Times reports on Mr. Connors, WPCNR urges you to go to the News-Times website, at www.newstimes.com.