As BOE approves Title, Bloomfield reps weigh in on his tenure
Published 1:04 am, Friday, April 2, 2010
"I have had the good fortune to meet and to work with a number of transformational figures in the high-tech industry," he said. "And I truly believe we're bringing in one of those transformational figures."
Title sat cross-legged in the second row of the Roger Ludlowe Middle School auditorium, staring at his thumb. Then the board voted -- 8 to 1 -- for his approval and he stood up, thanked the board, and said that he was "extremely proud."
Sue Dow cast the sole dissenting vote; a decision she based on his compensation package.
The contract, signed Thursday, runs three years starting July 1, and will pay Title $250,000 ($225,000 in base, $22,000 in annuity and $13,000 in deferred payments). The contract leaves open the chance for a one-time, up-to-$10,000 performace-based bonus each year -- the first year's at the discretion of the Board of Education; the second and third will be determined with Title during
negotiations for his yearly salary.
The Fairfield Citizen caught up with Title and a few Bloomfield officials this week to discuss his term there. Mayor Sydney Schulman was asked of Title's character. "It's impeccable," he said. "He's very forthright and upfront, and very creative."
"I think he has done an outstanding job in Bloomfield," said State Representative David Baram, D-15, who served as mayor there from 1981 through 1989. "He is extremely intellectual, and typically has his hands on the details of policy issues and matters affecting education."
Title came to Bloomfield in 2002. At the time, Baram said, the town's central financial office was in "somewhat of disarray." Title helped "clean it up and put it in order," Baram said. "And we now have a central office that is working extremely well, especially in financial matters."
Title told the Fairfield Citizen that two of his biggest accomplishments in Bloomfield were in setting up two new inter-district magnet schools in the town (there had already been one such school there before his tenure). The first to open was a nontraditional high school called "The Big Picture High School," which is steeped in internships and hands-on professional work. Then, this year, an inter-district preschool called "Wintonbury" opened. The schools cater to students of Bloomfield and the five surrounding districts.
Asked why magnet schools are important to Bloomfield, Schulman said the town's school population is around 95-percent minority, and that the magnet schools add much-needed diversity.
"We have some very affluent, more homogenous communities like Simsbury, Avon and West Hartford around us who are participating in this magnet school endeavor," Baram added. "The schools have already broken some of the perceptions that people sometimes harbor against having a more diverse school system."
Baram credits Title with coming up with the idea for the schools and with shepherding it through a long bureaucratic process into fruition.
"That was quite an accomplishment by itself," he said, "to get this project approved by the state, line it up for funding, perform the searches for talented teachers and convince the communities to participate."
Title listed passing a $94.6 million bonding package in 2006 to renovate all the school buildings in Bloomfield as his other big accomplishment there. "That was huge in Bloomfield," he said. "They had never passed a referendum for any substantial amount of money for their schools. But they had faith we could spend the money wisely and trusted us to do it right."
The work, he said, should be completed in 2012, and under budget.
Fairfield, of course, has different challenges than Bloomfield. This district is around four times larger than Bloomfield and continues to grow. "A lot of districts are able to manage tightening budgets because their population is getting smaller," he said. "When you have a growing population, though, that presents a challenge."
At least one parent on Wednesday night was impressed. Mark Newman said that what he saw of Title on paper looked good. "From what I can tell from his blogs" -- Title runs a superintendant's blog on the Bloomfield Public Schools Web site -- "he's very into teacher and administrative accountability, and that's good."
Schulman called the new job a "tremendous career advancement" for Title. "I'm happy for him. You always want good people in your school system and administration, but you always expect that the best people are going to advance and to move on," he said.