by Jackie Schechter, Editor-in-Chief
Principal Figluizzi will be leaving Westhill for a new Stamford Public Schools position, Director of Magnet Schools.
“I’ve been here for 12 years, which is a very long time for a high school principal,” she said. “I think it’s a testament to how happy I’ve been here. I got to the point where I had to look at my career and see what the next step will be. This [new position] is it.”
Superintendent Dr. Starr said that he created this position over the summer, but it took some time for it to get approved by the Board of Education (BOE). The employee who is currently overseeing magnet schools is also doing two other jobs simultaneously, according to Dr. Starr, so having Ms. Figluizzi in her new position will “give [the magnet schools] the attention they deserve,” he said.
“I know Ms. Figluizzi will be able to bring her years of experience in different schools within Stamford and her intimate knowledge of the Stamford community [to the position]…She applied for the position and we thought she was the right candidate,” Dr. Starr said.
On Monday, October 25, Ms. Figluizzi announced to all of the teachers that she had applied for the job and would be finding out if she was chosen after a BOE meeting the next day. On the evening of Tuesday, October 26, the BOE voted to appoint Principal Ms. Figluizzi to the position. Ms. Figluizzi will work downtown and will be responsible for overseeing Stamford’s seven magnet schools/programs, including the complex lottery process and the development of these programs’ themes.
“[The position] involves oversight of the magnet schools and potentially the development of other magnet schools,” Ms. Figluizzi said. Her two children both attended Westover Elementary School, a magnet school, and Ms. Figluizzi’s first job as a principal was at Toquam Magnet Middle School. “Like the other Stamford public schools, they’re very fine places,” she said. “I thought about it for a long time, and I knew that I wanted to stay within this school system.”
Ms. Figluizzi is one of five administrators throughout the district who are being reappointed to new positions within the Stamford Public Schools system.
Ms. Figluizzi stressed that she is not leaving the job because she is “tired or burned out. I love it here [at Westhill]. This has nothing to do with being tired; it’s about doing different work for myself professionally.” She has sent out a letter explaining her departure to Westhill parents that should be received over the weekend.
It is not yet known who will take Ms. Figluizzi’s place as principal once the appointment goes into effect. Dr. Starr said that the Board of Education has begun the search for a new permanent principal, and if necessary, it will appoint an interim principal until the permanent one is hired.
“If we don’t find a permanent person, which can be difficult during the year, we will look for interim. However, it has to be the right interim, [so the search] could take a month or two, or it could take longer. We want a good transition so the school continues to be strong school it is,” Dr. Starr said.
According to Dr. Starr, Ms. Figluizzi will not move to her new job until at least December 1, and it could be well after that if the search for a permanent or interim principal continues. “[We care about] finding the right person to continue Ms. Figluizzi’s work,” Dr. Starr said.
Ms. Figluizzi agreed, saying, “I won’t leave until the transition is managed well. And if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll stay until it happens.”
The job offer has already been posted on the Stamford Public Schools’ website. According to the posting, applicants must have a minimum of five years of teaching experience and three years of administrative experience to qualify for the job.
Ms. Figluizzi said that both the interim and permanent principals could be employees who already work at Westhill or they could be entirely new; it all depends on who applies for the job.
Dr. Starr said he wants to involve the Westhill community in choosing a new permanent principal, citing that in finding a new principal for Stamford High last year, there were parents, teachers, central office staff, and other principals on the selection committee. Dr. Starr said that while students usually do not sit on such committees, he thinks “there is definitely a role for some student input. I would be interested in getting students’ perspectives.”
Ms. Figluizzi said that she may be on the interview committee to choose the next principal. She added, “I thinks it’s absolutely appropriate [for students to sit on the committee as well].”
Ms. Figluizzi said, “It will be very sad for me to leave. It’s a beautiful feeling to move positions because you want to, not because you have to or because you’re burned out. I’ve had the time of my life; I’ve learned so much [here],” she said.
To read the minutes from Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, click here.