New Shelton superintendent reorganizes central office

Newly promoted Superintendent of Schools Ken Saranich poses in front of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Newly promoted Superintendent of Schools Ken Saranich poses in front of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Ken Saranich is getting right to work as the school district’s new superintendent — restructuring the central office with a focus on increased efficiency in hopes of reducing costs.

Saranich took over as permanent superintendent on Friday and immediately elevated Carole Pannozzo from human resources director to the newly created post of chief of staff. He is also creating a new position of supervisor for teaching and learning.

Saranich — who spent more than a year serving as the district’s assistant superintendent, first under Chris Clouet, then under interim superintendent Beth Smith — will not be filling the assistant superintendent position. Smith moves back to her former post as director of special education until her retirement at the end of the school year.

“Levels of leadership are important for stability,” said Saranich, who has spent more than a decade in the district, primarily as the Shelton Intermediate School principal.

“The reorganization plan will redistribute responsibilities within our organization making our work more efficient, while also developing cost savings for the community and provide the proper organizational flow and hierarchy.”

Pannozzo, who has announced she will retire in 2022, will oversee all the operational aspects — such as facilities, security and technology — in the district. All directors of those types of operations will report to Pannozzo, Saranich said.

“Ken and I have enjoyed a very productive and complimentary working relationship during the last nine years,” Pannozzo said. “I often feel our thinking about issues and decision making strategies are synchronous.”

Pannozzo, a 37-year Shelton resident who raised three children in the community, has eight years teaching experience and 24 years in school district human resources — 15 in Bridgeport and nine in Shelton.

“I have a thorough knowledge of school district operations, in addition to the recruitment and hire of personnel, contract negotiations, budgeting and labor law.” she said. “The primary focus of the chief of staff position is to support the new superintendent's goals for the school district, providing principals and directors with recommendations and consultation, measuring progress of initiatives and staff performance and managing day-to-day affairs of the district.”

The new supervisor of teaching and learning will report to Kristen Santilli, the district’s director of curriculum. Santilli will oversee all aspects of the curriculum, with a focus on kindergarten through sixth grade. The new position will work primarily with the staff in grades 7 to 12.

Overall, Saranich said the district could see at least a $20,000 to $25,000 savings from this restructuring.

The Board of Education, at its December regular meeting, did not need to vote on Saranich’s plan but gave its informal approval of his efforts.

“This plan is one of a true visionary,” Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Yolish said.

Yolish said the board asked Saranich to look for areas where the district can be more productive, more efficient and reap cost savings. One of his first assignments, Yolish said, was to identify possible consolidations to keep everything operating smoothly, but areas that might yield savings.

“Ken, as our new district leader, did exactly what was asked as he identified plans for now and also for the future,” Yolish said. “This plan not only addresses reorganization for 2021 but will look to future consolidations as well.”