SOUTHINGTON – Education leaders said they were looking for continuity in the midst of the pandemic when they chose Assistant Superintendent Steve Madancy to lead the school district.
Rather than posting the position, gathering applications and screening candidates, the board unanimously appointed Madancy to replace retiring superintendent Tim Connellan, who leaves in June.
“This way, we have a smooth transition,” said Terri Carmody, board chairwoman and a Republican. “There’s so much going on right now that it really, really is advantageous for us as a system to keep the continuity there.”
For school officials, the pandemic has presented a steady stream of challenges, including remote learning, maintaining in person classes and quarantines involving staff and students.
Madancy, a Wallingford resident, has worked as assistant superintendent in Southington for the past six years. He was hired to replace Karen Smith. Madancy’s first job in Southington was as Kennedy Middle School principal. He started his education career as a health and physical education teacher in Wallingford and worked as an elementary school principal in Milford.
Promoting from within
Board leaders said the 46-year-old Madancy’s familiarity with the job and the district was a major factor in his appointment.
“It just demonstrates what we try and do in district as far as grooming and managing up and trying to promote within first and foremost,” said Joe Baczewski, board vice chairman and a Republican.
Posting the job and receiving applications would have taken more time and cost the board money if a consultant was brought in to handle screening.
“It saved tax money, it was the right thing,” Baczewski said of the board’s approach.
Connellan gave notice of his retirement earlier this month. Carmody formed a search committee of the entire board and asked them how they felt about Madancy’s promotion.
“Terri did it right. She made one-on-one contact with each board member, getting a feel as to how everyone felt,” said David Derynoski, a board Democrat.
Promoting from within saved time and avoided a settling-in period that would have occurred had an outside candidate been hired.
“Steve made (the decision) easy. He works well with everybody. He’s a well-liked guy,” Derynoski said.
While pandemic restrictions may be lifted by the time school starts under Madancy’s leadership later this year, Baczewski said the new superintendent would still have to deal with social disruption.
“What do we do to get kids caught back up?” Baczewski said. “I do have confidence that Steve is going to be doing what Steve does, thinking outside the box.”
On March 11, consultants with Colliers plan to make recommendations on elementary school modernization projects. Baczewski said two elementary schools are in need of renovation or reconstruction, a “huge undertaking.”
“He’s got his work cut out for him,” Baczewski said.
Carmody was optimistic about Madancy’s tenure, saying he brought a lot of energy to the job and has always put students first.
Family of educators
Madancy, from Rhode Island, met his wife in college and moved to Connecticut. His wife Christie Madancy is a Wallingford schools administrator and her three siblings are teachers. Her parents Nick and Sue Economopoulos also worked in the Wallingford school district.
“Our dinner conversations are about education all the time,” Steve Madancy said of family gatherings.
Steve Madancy’s relatives attended the virtual meeting Thursday night when the board appointed him.
“We are very blessed to have Steve as are you to have him in Southington,” Sue Economopoulos told education board members.