Reginald Mayo will return to New Haven Public Schools as its interim superintendent following Garth Harries’ ’95 resignation last month, Mayor Toni Harp announced at a Monday night Board of Education meeting.
Mayo, who was named NHPS superintendent in 1992, retired from his position in 2013 after a 46-year career in the school district. Chair of the interim superintendent search committee Darnell Goldson, also a BOE member, said the committee received applications from five candidates and conducted interviews with all candidates on Oct. 17. The position was offered to Mayo on Oct. 19 and the committee discussed the terms of his contract prior to Monday’s meeting.
To a room of over 50 attendees and nine BOE members, Harp announced the terms of Mayo’s contract — a salary of $130,500 for 174 days in office, starting Nov. 2. The BOE voted unanimously to approve the contract.
“When I came [in as superintendent] there was work to do, and when I left there was work to do,” Mayo said. “Just got to keep working at it and not give up.”
Mayo said some of the items at the top of his agenda in 1992 — including closing the district’s achievement gap and hiring quality teachers — remain issues in New Haven today.
He thanked Harries for his work and highlighted Harries’ achievements during his term as superintendent, including securing a $54 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for NHPS in 2012 and decreasing the district’s dropout rate.
“[It] seemed like he never went home,” Mayo said, joking that the only thing he could not get Harries to do was “shine his shoes.”
Harries came to NHPS from New York in 2009 to design the school-reform program School Change Initiative, and served as assistant superintendent under Mayo until Harries was appointed superintendent following Mayo’s retirement in 2013.
At the meeting, Harries emphasized that a smooth transition was important to him and said he is “standing poised” to support that transition in whatever way he can. He thanked the school board and district, and said NHPS has a strong foundation upon which it must continue to grow.
“[Harries] came in with a reputation as a guy who wanted to do things his way,” Mayo said. “He’s leaving the same way he came in.”
Coral Ortiz, one of the BOE’s two student representatives, thanked Harries for his service on behalf of the students of New Haven. She said Harries clearly cares about New Haven’s students, and added that he handles himself well in the face of opposition and criticism. Ortiz, a current senior at James Hillhouse High School, also followed up on a request she made on Oct. 11 for a letter to be sent out to NHPS families informing them about the district’s progress in finding a new superintendent.
The application for interim superintendent called for at least 10 years of senior leadership at a school and gave preference to candidates with strong working knowledge of Common Core standards and special education. Additionally, per the requirements on the application, Mayo will not be eligible to apply for the permanent position — the BOE passed a ruling encouraging the interim superintendent to focus his energy on the district, rather than in his candidacy for permanent superintendent.
The interim superintendent will serve for four to six months until the BOE appoints a permanent superintendent.