OTIS -- Farmington River Regional School District is reshaping its administrative team.
As of July 1, Principal Mary Turo will step out of that role and into the newly developed position of director of reading. Thomas Nadolny, the assistant elementary principal for Southern Berkshire Regional School District, will take the helm as Farmington River’s new principal.
Farmington River Superintendent Jo Ann Austin said the new changes will not affect the budget, which has already been passed.
Austin said the changes began when current reading teacher June Meyers announced in February that she would be retiring at the end of the school year.
Meyer is "a veteran teacher who’s been excellent in the role of reading teacher," said Austin. "She has a sense of joy about learning. It was sad to hear but we’re happy for her, of course."
At the same time, Austin saw the personnel change as an opportunity to step back and survey the district’s needs and resources.
Reading scores on the Spring 2013 MCAS indicated that students were struggling, with only 47 percent of third-graders achieving a level of proficiency or better on the reading exams; the previous third-grade class had 81 percent of its students reading at a level of proficient or better in 2012.
In addition to addressing reading instruction, Austin said the district also needs to be able to meet the new Common Core and teacher evaluations requirements, which require a great deal of administrative expertise and time, along with continuing to develop and roll out other forms of in-house metrics for tracking student achievement and progress.
Instead of hiring a curriculum coordinator, Austin decided to develop a director of reading model, which would combine the role of a reading specialist with administrative curriculum development and evaluation responsibilities.
"It’s always about the economy of scale here. With the district being so small, many people wear many hats in my district," Austin said.
As Turo saw the description of the new position develop, it piqued her interest, so she approached Austin about it.
"Mary had come to us with a fabulous background as a reading specialist and an administrator," said Austin.
As the two talked, it became clear that Turo, with her credentials and her experience in leading the district since 2009, would make her an ideal candidate for the director of reading role.
"I enjoyed the years I’ve served as principal but I’m glad to be getting back to my first love. My whole reason for getting into education was because I wanted to teach kids to read," Turo said.
Turo has previously served as a Title I director for Shrewsbury Public Schools and is a certified reading teacher.
Austin said the district posted the principal vacancy in March, and that a search was conducted with the support of a 20-member screening committee.
"We’re very pleased to have Tom Nadolny as our final choice," Austin said. "He brings the data analysis and leadership skills that are incorporated into that role [of principal]."
Austin said the principal’s salary was still under negotiation, but would be in the low $70,000s.
Nadolny has served as both assistant principal and principal of Southern Berkshire’s four elementary schools and has worked as an educator for more than 20 years. He’s previously served as an elementary principal in the Gateway Regional School District and as assistant principal for Lee Public Schools.
Nadolny said he’s eager to get back into the role of principal.
"The small rural school setting is something I really like. I like the sense of community that comes with the smaller schools," he said.
Nadolny has made several visits to Farmington River Elementary School over the past few weeks to begin to get to know students, staff and families. The district has about 130 students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 6, and 34 full-time equivalent employees, according to state data.
Turo said she is "working to make transition seamless."
Austin said she is "thrilled" to add Nadolny to the district’s leadership team, which will also include herself, Turo and Special Education Director Michael Saporito.