Athletic director settles grievance with Shelton schools, returns full-time

Shelton High School athletic director John Niski poses for a photograph in his office at the school in Shelton, Conn.

Shelton High School athletic director John Niski poses for a photograph in his office at the school in Shelton, Conn.

Autumn Driscoll / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Athletic Director John Niski is working full time again as part of an agreement settling his grievance against the Board of Education.

The board, at its meeting on Tuesday, approved a deal settling the grievance, which was filed on Niski’s behalf by the administrators’ union after the athletic director position was shifted to a part-time position.

This shift was one of many cost-cutting moves approved during the BOE’s $3.2 million mitigation in June to keep the education budget at the city-approved $72,650,000 for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Since Niski was only part time until Tuesday, he will receive a retroactive payment of $44,528 on Friday to restore his salary to full-time status, according to District Chief of Staff Carole Pannozzo.

Pannozzo confirmed Niski, a 36-year veteran of the Shelton school system and the last 17 as athletic director, has submitted the necessary paperwork to retire at the end of the school year.

As part of a separation agreement, Niski’s salary for 2020-21 will be $154,364.

Niski will also receive a $50,000 severance payout on or before Aug. 1 in accordance with his agreement, Pannozzo said.

Niski did not want to comment on the settlement.

Last year during the budget season, the Republican-majority school board voted along party lines to reduce the athletic director and the athletic director’s secretary positions from full time to part time, which created a $100,000 savings in the 2020-21 school budget.

The move sparked letters and public comments from staff, parents, and students alike, urging the board to re-establish the athletic director’s job as a full-time post, considering the complexity of the position. The athletic director supervises and oversees physical education staff and a district-wide curriculum

In Shelton, including Shelton Intermediate School teams, the position handles 54 teams — spring, winter and fall seasons and Unified Sports.

Niski, who was named athletic director in 2004, was recently named Michael’s Cup Athletic Director of the Year for his contribution to the success of Unified Sports.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com