Public may never know details of investigation into oversight of education finances

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MONROE, CT — When the Board of Education’s investigation into budgetary issues determined any problems found had occurred before Jack Zamary was superintendent, there was a public clamoring to see all of the investigation’s findings.

The Monroe Sun filed a Freedom of Information request for the investigator, Attorney David Ryan’s findings, but apparently there is no final report to obtain.

“Attorney Ryan’s report was in draft form and not completed, therefore, it is my understanding that under CT Supreme Court law no disclosure is required,” Board of Education Chairwoman Donna Lane responded.

Zamary, who was placed on paid administrative leave in January, is currently working as a consultant at his $193,800 superintendent’s salary. But he will part ways with the district by the end of the year, according to an agreement passed by the Board of Education on Aug. 25.

Joseph Kobza, who was assistant superintendent, has been serving as interim superintendent since January and Jack Ceccolini, a longtime administrator for Monroe public schools, is now serving as interim assistant superintendent.

Through an FOI request for any correspondence between Kobza and Zamary since Zamary assumed his new role, The Sun obtained an email revealing some of the work he will be doing.

“We are looking to tap into your expertise in educational technology and instruction,” Kobza told Zamary in the email. “It would be extremely beneficial to the district if you would work with Jack Ceccolini and I to help support our teachers as they navigate distance learning in our hybrid model of instruction. Additionally, we are looking to make enhancements to our website and were looking for your technology experience to advise us there as well.”

According to the agreement with the board, Zamary can stay on as a consultant until June 30, 2021, but then he would resign as part of a binding agreement.

Zamary will be allowed to pursue other employment during this period. If he is hired by an out-of-state employer, the board must pay the difference in salary this year if it is lower. He could also retain his sick pay, which is 61 days and worth a total of $45,293.

Payment of the salary difference and sick pay would have to be made on or before July 1, 2021.

In a third scenario, Zamary could find a job within Connecticut, give two weeks notice and leave.

High praise for Kobza

Joseph Kobza, the acting superintendent of schools, at an emergency Board of Education meeting last year.

The Board of Education has yet to hire a new superintendent to lead Monroe’s public schools into the future. Asked about Kobza, Lane said no board action has been taken regarding changing his interim status.

Kobza earned praise from school board members and town officials for navigating the district through challenging budget issues, while working together with staff to come up with distance learning curriculum after COVID-19 forced schools to close last year.

“I can unequivocally state that as chairman of the board I am very pleased with his performance, and his leadership of the district in these difficult times,” Lane said. “This past year, Joe instantly rolled up his sleeves and jumped into situations the district was facing with a positive attitude and complete confidence.”

“He demands a team approach to problem solving,” she said. “With that being said, he has successfully led his own team, while also working together with town leaders on the pandemic and so many other issues.”

“When looking back at his accomplishments as a leader in 2020, I guess I am not surprised,” Lane said. “Joe is a longtime resident of Monroe. He was a football star at Masuk in the late 80’s and moved on to display his talents at Trinity College for its highly respected football program — wherever Joe has been he has been a successful team leader.”

“Joe has worked for our district for over 20 years. His life is one dedicated to public service,” Lane added. “He has volunteered his time in our community as a coach in youth sports, as well as many other important civic and social endeavors. I look for his assistance and guidance on an almost daily basis as school opens this year. Each day I understand and can further appreciate Joe’s dedication to the community he was raised in.”

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