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Friday, October 19 Local

Displaced Bridgeport school leaders reassigned

BRIDGEPORT — Budget cuts have led to more administrative reassignments than usual in a school district that is used to rearranging the deck chairs each summer.

More than a dozen Bridgeport administrators displaced by lost positions have landed in vacancies, and in some cases there have been transfers and departures.

Schools Superintendent Aresta Johnson characterized the moves as an effort to maintain high quality instructional leadership at the school level and to keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.

In a much-anticipated move, the principal of Bassick High School is changing for about the 10th time in as many years.

Johnson announced Thursday that Joseph Raiola will be the new principal at Bassick in the fall, replacing Byron Williams, who was appointed to that job last summer.

Johnson, who spent her first full year as superintendent with four assistant superintendents, had to cut that number in half. Christina Otuwa and Janet Brown Clayton, who both joined the district last fall, will remain as assistant superintendents for instructional leadership. John Litchner and Debra Santacapita have left the district.

Other new appointments include Christina Moore as principal at Columbus School, Tina Peloso-Ulreich as principal at Wilbur Cross, and Giovanna Ramos as principal at Hooker.

Peloso-Ulreich was director of early childhood education, a position that was eliminated in the new budget. Moore and Ramos were both assistant principals. The district cut back on those as well.

Christopher Johnson, no relation to the superintendent, was athletic director for the district until that position was cut. He is now an assistant principal at Bassick. Carmen McPherson, an assistant principal at Bassick, was transferred to Central High School.

The superintendent said the Harding and Hooker principal appointments are interim until the jobs go through the formal hiring process. Johnson said her decision to replace Williams was a personnel matter.

Raiola, previously an assistant principal at Harding, had tried for the top job at Bassick last year and was the pick of both the School Governance Council and teachers. Johnson, at the time, went with Williams.

Williams did have supporters including a group of about 20 students, parents and community members who recently rallied for him in front of City Hall after Williams was notified he was being transferred back to Batalla School as an assistant principal.

Joanne Kennedy, one of Williams’ backers, said Friday she is still seeking answers on the change.

“Why inconsistency at Bassick, and why put someone in who has never been a head principal before to be in charge of your so-called most challenging school?” Kennedy said.

Others were thrilled by Raiola’s appointment, particularly Albert Benejan, a parent leader at Bassick who frequently locked horns with Williams.

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“He suppose to be at Bassick a years ago,” Benejan said. “Thanks to the Lord and to a lot of peoples ... now Bassick will be better and everyone will be working better.”

Raiola said on Friday he was excited for the opportunity.

Other new appointments include Angela Garafalo as the supervisor of the Bridgeport Learning Center. She had been district supervisor of specialized instruction, another position cut from the budget.

Linda Conner Lambeck|Education Reporter

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