Benigni and Meriden school board agree to contract extension



reporter photo

MERIDEN — The Board of Education and School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni this week agreed to a new three-year contract — extending Benigni’s employment through the 2024-2025 school year.

Benigni enters his 13th year leading the city’s school system, placing him among the current group of superintendents statewide who have the longest ongoing tenures in a single school district. In urban school districts, like Meriden, superintendents’ tenures seldom exceed five years.  

Benigni, reached on Thursday, said he’s “obviously thrilled” to renew his contract. 

“I can’t believe how fast time flies,” Benigni said. “Obviously, I love Meriden. And I’m thrilled to work in a community where my own children attend schools, a school system that I attended myself. It’s been a great honor. Not every superintendent has a board that really works diligently together and is so supportive of our students.”

Board of Education President Rob Kosienski Jr. described the new agreement as a “a very reasonable contract.”

For the 2022-2023 school year, Benigni's total compensation increases to $221,390. That total factors in a $201,845 base salary, $17,545 annuity payment and $2,000 stipend for holding an educational doctorate. 

For the 2023-2024 school year, the total package is $225,327, with a $204,772 base salary, $18,555 annuity payment and $2,000 stipend.

The total compensation scheduled for 2024-2025 is $228,677, with a $207,844 base salary, $18,833 annuity payment and $2,000 doctorate stipend. 

The contract is in line with other contracts, or lower than other superintendent agreements, in the state, Kosienski said. “We’re very fortunate to have Mark here. And we hope to have him here for many years to come because his continued guidance has meant success for the district. 

“Meriden is really doing an awful lot. I’m really proud of Mark and our staff for making those kinds of incredible opportunities for our kids,” he added. 

Benigni outlined goals for the upcoming year that include expanding opportunities for high school graduates who do not plan to attend college. 

The district is exploring the potential of creating a new career center program, building upon a recently formed partnership with Wilcox Technical High School that allows students to learn culinary arts and manufacturing during an after-school program. 

“I think we’ve done a good job increasing graduation rates and getting more students to take college level courses. But we need to look at those students who do not see college as an option for them. What can we do to make sure they’re ready for a competitive work environment once they leave our high schools?” Benigni said. 

Other areas of focus will be continuing to recruit and retain a diverse educator workforce and improved family engagement. 

While remote learning had its shortcomings, educators have found that being able to offer families the opportunity to participate in remote parent teacher conferences increased the numbers of families able to attend.  

“We will always be looking for creative ways to support and work with our families,” Benigni said. ”... We know our parents want to be involved and they care about our children. We need to think outside the box on how we can engage with them.”

Lauren Mancini-Averitt, president of the Meriden Federation of Teachers, said the union and the district under Benigni’s leadership have maintained a “good labor management collaboration and I hope that continues.”

Mancini-Averitt, asked if there are opportunities for improvement, replied, “Always.”

“I think you would be misleading yourself as a leader if you didn’t think you could have areas of improvement,” Mancini-Averitt said. “I think that’s something that most leaders know to be true. If you’ve done everything you can do, then it’s time to move on.”

The goal of expanding opportunities for students is one the Meriden Federation of Teachers appears to share as well. 

“I think everyone is hoping there are more opportunities for the career and tech ed strand,” Mancini-Averitt said. 

Reporter Michael Gagne can be reached at mgagne@record-journal.com.



Advertisement

More From This Section