Deniz Saip

The Board of Education voted last Monday to appoint Michael Pinto as the New Haven Public Schools Chief Operating Officer, a previously empty position last occupied by William Clark.

Pinto was presented by New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Carol Birks at the Board’s bimonthly meeting at Celentano Magnet School. According to Birks, Pinto attended New Haven Public Schools as a child, and earned a law degree at Quinnipiac Law School before being admitted to the Connecticut and New York bar associations. Before his appointment as COO, Pinto previously served as deputy director of the New Haven Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking.

“I’m honored and I’m humbled to be here,” Pinto said at Monday’s meeting. “I recognize the magnitude for this job … I try to be collaborative, and I also try to be pragmatic, I think you’ll find fairly quickly that I don’t need to be right, I just want to get the job done.”

The Board swiftly approved Pinto at Monday’s meeting, even before Birks presented him as a candidate. Pinto’s appointment follows the resignation of Clark, who held the position of COO since 2007 and left for a job in neighboring Waterbury with 18 months left in his contract. According to the New Haven Register, Clark received more than $100,000 in a separation agreement following his resignation, and the Board voted 5–1 in favor of the resolution.

Clark’s resignation comes at a time of growing financial woes for New Haven Public Schools. Before Pinto’s introduction at the meeting, Birks presented the proposed 2019–2020 New Haven Public Schools General Fund Budget to the board, which exceeds the funding available to the board by about nine million dollars. According to Birks’ presentation, these costs are driven by factors such as staff raises and increasing costs for special education.

According to the Superintendent’s personnel report provided at Monday’s meeting, Pinto will be paid a salary of $145,000, and he will officially begin his new position on March 5.

Pinto’s appointment punctuates a long period of Board reshuffling, which included the resignation of Board member Frank Redente in December and last month’s voting down of Board Vice President Jamell Cotto. According to the Register, Redente left because of his uneasiness with the Board’s politics, and Cotto was removed from his position following a series of complaints about his attendance at meetings, his attitude toward parents and his conflict of interest as the CEO of the Farnam Community, a local nonprofit that contracts with the board.

Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 told the News that he is optimistic that Pinto will be a good fit for the school board. He added that he hopes a qualified candidate can quickly be found to fill Pinto’s vacancy at the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking.

“I’m excited for Mike Pinto to start his tenure,” said Catalbasoglu. “I think it was very important for us to fill that vacancy, as his position is pivotal to the success of our board and of our public schools … It’s very important that we get our finances set, and I hope Mike Pinto can do that for us.”

Pinto hails from a long lineage of New Haven citizens and New Haven Public Schools  students, beginning in 1915 with his grandmother, who attended Worthington Hooker School. Pinto also attended the school after his mother moved back to New Haven to attend Yale graduate school, and his grandfather taught Latin and history at Fairview. According to Pinto, his brothers and sisters — though they are now Hamden residents — were “[some] of the first to volunteer in integration efforts” for New Haven Public Schools . To this day, Pinto walks his daughter to Edgewood Magnet School.

Meanwhile, the mayor is currently considering Yesenia Rivera for the vacant seat on the BOE formerly held by Frank Redente.

Valerie Pavilonis | valerie.pavilonis@yale.edu