Get to know...Stephen Tracy
FAIRFIELD — When Stephen Tracy retired from a decades-long career in public schools, his only plan was to manage the goat farm he owns with his wife in Goshen, Conn. Then he got a call from the Fairfield School District.
Tracy took on the role of interim superintendent for Fairfield schools this week following the retirement of David Title.
“Here I am, back on the field,” he said.
Tracy began his career as a public school history teacher in Westchester, N.Y. He went on to serve in Connecticut as assistant superintendent in Farmington and as superintendent in New Milford and Derby.
During his career, Tracy also spent 14 years working for Edison Schools, a private company he said creates and manages public schools. Tracy retired last summer after his final post as superintendent for the state Department of Children and Families where he oversaw education for foster children and three small schools for children with psychological or behavioral issues, as well as those in juvenile detention.
Since retiring, Tracy has devoted his time to the 25-goat farm he manages with his wife, where they produce milk and cheese. The couple have lived in Goshen for more than a decade.
The farm has been a “nice change of pace from the office work - that’s for sure,” Tracy said.
The Board of Education contracted Tracy to receive a salary of $12,000 per month for the first three months of his tenure and $10,000 for the three months after that. Tracy said he would be “amazed” to serve as superintendent for more than six months and that he believes the Board of Education has plans to fill the position long before that point.
Q: What are your primary goals for the Fairfield School District while you’re here?
A: Well, I think the simple way to think of it is I’m here to keep the ship on course for the next couple of months, or however long it takes until a new person gets here. Usually when I take a new job I have all kinds of ideas, things I’d like to introduce or change, but this isn’t that kind of assignment. This is really an obligation to maintain the good work that the teachers and the leaders of the district have been doing for a long time and make sure that keeps going, make sure the school board gets the information it needs to take action on items that come up over the next couple of months and then to turn things over to the new person whenever she or he gets here.
Q: Why did you want to take on this role?
A: I’ve been in the public school business all my life so I enjoy these questions and I enjoy working with people who’ve committed their careers to the growth of young people. So that’s primarily it. It’s a chance to get to know a town and a district that I haven’t really had much to do with over the years and try to be helpful at an important point of transition.
I also think very highly of Dr. Title, the gentleman who retired just last week. He and I worked together on an early childhood committee for the state that he chaired. So that’s how we got to know each other. And if I can do anything to make sure that his good work is preserved and passed on to the next person, I’m happy to do it.
Q: Are there any specific initiatives going on now that you’ll be focused on?
A: We’re working now on the first annual report on the District Improvement Plan. The district has had for quite some time a very ambitious outline of initiatives and efforts to improve the school system and in October I’ll be working with the leadership of the district to present the first report on how that’s going.
And there’s a long list of measures and test results and things of that sort that will be presented to the [Board of Education] as evidence of the progress the district has made on that plan so far — so that’s important.
In a couple of weeks we have an annual summer meeting of all the administrators in the district that’s called the August Advance. That’s a three-day opportunity for that group to work on a variety of issues: Looking at data on student performance, looking at plans for the coming year, making sure we’re ready to go in terms of the opening of school, the continued implementation of the teacher evaluation law. I’m trying to focus on that to make sure we do a good job together in a couple of weeks.
Q: Is there anything that you plan to become involved with in Fairfield outside of the schools?
We met this morning with several representatives from the police department to talk about school security and communication between the police and schools if and when there ever could be a crisis, and we need to be able to talk with each other and take care of the children in a very rapid fashion.