Bristol Schools Chief To Leave Next Year

BRISTOL — Superintendent Ellen Solek, who took charge of the roughly 8,000-student school system in 2012, will be leaving by the middle of next year.

The board of education voted earlier this year not to renew Solek’s contract, ensuring that someone else will be running the operation by July 2018.

Relations between Solek and the board of education have soured in the past several years, and Solek’s most recent evaluation contained several bluntly negative comments.

“The superintendent does not make difficult decisions and is unable to deal effectively with confrontation,” the board wrote in August 2016.

“Building-level appointments have been disappointing ... the superintendent has not gained the respect of many staff members,” according to the evaluation, which Solek provided through a Freedom of Information request.

Solek did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Bristol hired Solek from East Haddam, where she had been superintendent, to steer the schools through a major redistricting. She took over as the city built two new kindergarten-to-eighth-grade schools and closed four old buildings.

Voters changed the board’s makeup sharply during Solek’s tenure, first electing a conservative Republican majority and later ousting it in favor of the current Democratic majority.

Her evaluations went from largely favorable in 2012-13 to relatively negative in 2015-16, when the board wrote “presenting a budget to the board without identifying priorities or giving direction as to where reductions could be made was an abdication of leadership.”

The evaluation refers to her as professional, honest and ethical, and acknowledges that the board didn’t give her specific goals.

Minutes from a June 20 special board meeting show seven members voted unanimously against extending her contract.

Democratic board Chairman Chris Wilson declined to comment about Solek’s status other than to confirm that her contract expires June 30, 2018.

Solek’s personnel file includes a glowing reference letter dated Sept. 8, 2017, from Lawrence Amara, who chaired the board during the GOP’s majority from 2013 to 2015.

“Her personal and professional qualities exemplify professionalism,” he wrote, crediting her for successfully championing all-day kindergarten for Bristol and establishing a five-year district plan.

The board has not set out a timeline for replacing Solek.

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
53°