Mark Kenney to be principal of Telstar high and middle schools

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BETHEL — Mark Kenney, principal for the past three years at Telstar Middle School, will add the principalship of Telstar High School to his responsibilities.

The School Administrative District 44 board of directors voted Monday to expand Kenney’s role.

Prior to becoming principal at the middle school, Kenney was dean of students there for a year.

As part of the administrative changes in SAD 44, the position of dean of students will be reinstated at Telstar Middle School, according to Superintendent Dave Murphy.

The deans of students at the high school and the middle school support the principal, while preserving the separate identity of each school. This will continue as a priority in the coming years, Murphy said

Cheryl Lang, who has served as principal at Telstar High School for the past three years, requested and received a transfer to become the district’s curriculum coordinator and educator effectiveness coach. She had served previously as a curriculum leader in School Administrative District 17, and is completing her doctorate, with an emphasis in curriculum, Murphy said.

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Murphy said SAD 44 has also received the resignation of Kristin Dacko, dean of students at Telstar High School. The district will advertise to fill that opening.

Kenney, who was a math teacher before he became a middle school administrator, will receive a two-year contract at an annual salary of $93,500, with a 3 percent increase in the second year. Murphy said the THS principal position had been scheduled for a $92,000 salary next year.

Lang will also have a two-year contract, at an annual salary of $79,000.

Murphy said the administrative changes are expected to save the district some money.

He said that Kenney’s history and familiarity with Telstar families “will be a huge advantage” as he takes on his new role.

Murphy also noted that when he served as principal of both schools in 2001, the combined enrollment was 572 students. It is now 388.

Newry Director Bonnie Largess said she has known Kenney for a long time and thought the move was “a wonderful idea.”

Woodstock Director Marcel Polak praised the step of promoting from within the current staff, noting that several previous principals had not stayed long before moving on to other jobs outside the district.

Murphy said the addition of the dean’s position at TMS would help the school to preserve its own separate identity from the high school.

Greenwood Director Norm Milliard said the combined principal position would address some criticism he has heard about the need for two principals at the Telstar complex.

But board Chairman Larry Merlino had another suggestion. He wondered if it might work to forego hiring the second dean and move Murphy’s office to Telstar, allowing him to take over some of the school administrative duties. He described the idea as an experiment, perhaps for two years.

He cited economics and that the district needs a technology director, and said an administrative consolidation might allow that to happen.

But Polak characterized such a move as “dramatic,” saying that the superintendent currently works from 50 to 80 hours a week. Adding significantly more responsibility, he said, could compromise services for students.

“It’s up to the superintendent to come up with a reorganization plan,” Polak said, “and [Murphy’s] has been thought out the most.”

He said he was willing to have a discussion at some point on Merlino’s idea, but not to replace the proposal.

Bethel Director Frank Del Duca said the idea would need to be considered as a long-term strategy.

Mark Kenney

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