Jim Marpe, Board Of Ed Laud Landon

Superintendent of schools Dr. Elliott Landon announced this morning that he will retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year. First Selectman Jim Marpe praised the longtime educator: 

I have had the honor and privilege of working alongside Dr. Landon for a number of years, including my 8-year tenure as a member and chair of the Board of Education. Since taking office as first selectman, he and I have remained steadfast in our commitment to collaborating and forging a positive relationship with the town and Board of Education. I look forward to continuing this precedent during the remainder of Dr. Landon’s tenure and with his successor.

Dr. Elliott Landon (right) with First Selectman (and former Board of Education chair) Jim marpe.

Dr. Elliott Landon (right) with First Selectman (and former Board of Education chair) Jim Marpe.

On behalf of the Town of Westport, and as its First Selectman, I wish to congratulate and thank Dr. Landon for his dedication to the Town, its schools and most particularly, the multitude of children for whom he advocated. Through his 16-year career as Westport’s superintendent, he consistently raised the bar of excellence and has made the schools in Westport some of the most successful in the country.

His expertise and advocacy for our school system is laudable. Due to Dr. Landon’s leadership, Westport’s education system has provided and will continue to provide the necessary tools for the next generations to achieve personal growth and success for years to come. I wish Dr. Landon much health and happiness as he prepares for retirement.

Meanwhile, the Westport Board of Education released this statement:

We would like to thank Dr. Landon for leading our schools to tremendous heights during his 16-year tenure.  Westport is widely regarded as one of the top school districts in the state and in the nation, and Dr. Landon has been integral to our collective success.

 

Now, for the first time in 17 years, the Westport Board of Education will commence a search for a new superintendent, who will begin serving upon Dr. Landon’s retirement.  The Board is prepared for a thoughtful and thorough search process.  We will take the time necessary to find the right candidate to meet the needs of our students for the next generation.

 

We will conduct a nationwide search, and we will engage a search firm with a national scope that has worked with high-performing districts such as ours.  We have exceptionally high standards for the leader we will appoint, and we plan to involve the community throughout the process.  The Board will reach out to all of our stakeholders, including parents, teachers, administrators, staff members, students and the broader community for their input on the qualities they seek in a new superintendent.

 

We will make regular announcements about both our process and our progress, and we welcome your input at all points, starting today.  The seven of us can be reached at a single email address:  boe@westport.k12.ct.us.

 

In addition to thanking Dr. Landon, we want to thank all of the outstanding teachers, administrators and staff members who work on behalf of Westport’s children each day.  Our schools are thriving because of all of their professionalism, collaboration and dedication to our students. 

 

We very much appreciate all that Dr. Landon has done for our District and all he will continue to do for the next 13 months.  We look forward to the community’s participation as we search for his successor.

 

32 responses to “Jim Marpe, Board Of Ed Laud Landon

  1. Steven Halstead

    Dr. Landon has made a great contribution to Westport, to Westport’s children and to the reputation of Westport as a town which values education.

    As a Board of Education member for 12 years and as Chair during part of his career here in Westport, I can personally attest to his commitment, educational vision and leadership.

    Dr. Landon is yet another reason why Westport is a special place.

    Steve Halstead

  2. Jon Jacobs

    I disagree. To give Landon such accolades is like saying the Yankees of the 1950s were great teams only because Casey Stengel was a good manager. Dr. Landon is an authoritative, autocratic bully. We would not accept behavior of students that we accepted from him. He intimidates many students, teachers, and parents. I am happy to see him leave. Wish it had happened years ago.

  3. Wow, this sounds serious. Then again, a person with a Ph.D who refers to him/herself as “Dr.” in daily life is always entertaining.

  4. Bart Shuldman

    Wishing Mr Landon a great retirement. I just hope we do better with the next contract so we let the new Superintendant know that they will be removed if caught moving money around.

    Let’s remember just 9-10 months ago Mr Landon moved money between accounts without telling town officials. As reported in the Westport News, an internal audit revealed that $1,649,969 deficit in the Kings Highway HVAC project was covered by shifting money from the operating budgets utility, maintenance accounts to meet cost overruns. The original project was slated to cost $2,878,000 but grew to $4,527,968.

    In addition that was the 2nd issue uncovered that year as the health account was running a large deficit. These issues I believe caused the finance board to set up a subcommittee to audit operations in school spending. Not the leadership we need in Westport.

    Hopefully whoever gets hired understands that kind of mis-management will not be tolerated. Covering up budget mistakes by transferring money between accounts should cause immediate dismissal.

    Our town officials have done an outstanding job controlling cost and getting a real handle on our rising benefit obligations. The next school official should understand that Westport will be watching and hopefully the contract will clearly spell out the impact.

  5. Steve Stein

    Bart, somehow I think you are leaving out parts of the HVAC project story to make your point. Unexpected remediation for molds that were making our children sick- or something like that. Getting the job done before the opening of the school year so children were not moved temporarily to other schools or to temporary classrooms- or something like that. That nothing illegal, unethical or unnecessary was done- or something like that. Can you imagine how angry all the Kings Highway parents would have been and what they would think of you if you had been making the decisions or non decisions and didn’t spend the money and get the school ready- or something like that. And someone has to explain to me why are the Board of Ed and our first selectman Mr Marpe, who worked with Dr Landon- are saying nice things about him and the job he has done for our school system- across party lines, or something like that.

    And as a point of information- Nancy and Werner if you get a PhD or and EdD that means you are a Doctor- not of medicine but in your field of specialization- or something like that! Try telling any university professor or Nobel Laureate with a Phd that he isn’t a doctor- or something like that. I worked hard for my MD but I have great respect for the work it takes to get a PhD- and I think anyone with both an MD PhD would agree- they are both hard to get.- you can call my son and daughter in law to check that out.

    I cannot think of our excellent school system as a rudderless ship guided by incompetents. We aren’t cruising around in circles. Westport schools must get direction from someone and somewhere- could it be the successes that give our schools a great reputation come from our elected Board of Ed working closely with its selected superintendent- or something like that.

    Just a saying.

  6. Steve Stein

    Hi Nancy- Unless a lawyer is a judge and is called “Your Honor”, lawyers by tradition are called mister even though they hold a doctor of jurisprudence. If you have a masters degree, unfortunately you are still a mister or misses until you get a PhD and then you become a doctor.

    For as long as I’ve known Dr K and Dr Hightower, no one ever suggested they should not be addressed as doctor because they earned an EdD or PhD. And our previous Superintendent of Schools Dr Kelleher went by Dr Kelleher without commentary on being called doctor. And if you check, you will find that the superintendents, principals and teachers in all the surrounding communities who have EdD or PhD’s are addressed as Doctor and are listed that way in the schools online rosters.

    So I am not sure what your point is.

    • Accuracy. A PhD can be in English literature, marine biology, etc. An EdD is in education. I believe Dr. Landon’s is an EdD from Teachers College.

    • Certainly, this is a matter of personal prerogative. However, titles really are of little consequence (and sometimes confusing, as in the British medical system).

    • p.s. It is also interesting that an LL.B can pay a minimal sum for the title of J.D. when both titles are equivalent! Who would do that? Those who are too wrapped up in ego. Goofy.

  7. Bart Shuldman

    I was a parent who had children at Kings Highwway during the issue. So Please don’t tell me how I should should react. We were all supportive. Nobody knew the costs went over the budget. I would predict we would all have approved. But hiding the fact the cost went above what was planned is not acceptable. Sorry. Not the leader we need. In fact quite ugly finding out later what what reality.

  8. Steve Stein

    Hi Bart. So it was ugly because you weren’t informed over the summer that the funds to fix the school were shifted by the people with the authority to shift the funds and who were responsible to does so – did so? I think ugly should be saved for what would have happened when all the parents at Kings Highway would have been told their kids were being shipped all over town because the Kings Highway School HVAC problems were not remediated by the time school was supposed to open. I totally agree with you that if that had happened it would have been ugly and incompetent. But what happened was neither ugly nor incompetent. I personally would have been saying “Thank You!!” But that’s only my opinion about how I would have felt..

    I will clarify by adding- We have had 5 kids go through the school system and know the problems of shifting schools and schools under construction inconvenience.

    Lastly- we have 4 teachers (2 daughters, daughter in law and son in law) in our family- all considered outstanding teachers- and each of them would be the first to tell you they depend on great administrators- principals and superintendents to facilitate making things possible in the class room for them and their kids. You may not like our current superintendent and can’t wait to get rid of him- but Mr Marpe does say nice things about him and that’s good enough for me!

    • Bart Shuldman

      Steve. I appreciate your reply and comment. Understand the issue of having to move children between schools was ours also, as our children were at KHS

      The issue I was writing about was the blatant attempt to ‘hide’ and not to be ‘open’ about transferring funds from one budget item to another. We have budgets and expense categories so we know our costs to run the schools. If somehow we allow our administrator to move funds from different account to another to spend money without approval, then we will never know the true costs to run our schools. And we will be out of control. I, for one, believe it is critical that this never happen again

      If the issue at KHS needed more money and we knew we needed to fix the issue, why not come out and say so? We wanted our children safe, no doubt. We wanted the problem fixed. What drove Dr Landon to not let us know it was going to cost more? Makes no sense and brings up questions as to what was really going on.

      We as town residents and tax payers have to have trust in who is watching and managing our tax dollars. The Ed budget is huge the biggest tax expense in Westport. If we allow this type of action, not care that our Superintendant is spending money by moving money from one account to another without any type of approval, then we have lost control.

      I continue to hope the new contract will allow the town to immediately remove an administrator if this should happen again. Somehow Dr Landon felt his actions were ok and that is not right. I guess he felt there would be no repercussion.

      I also ask-after the town spent an extra $4 million to remediate the issue at KHS, why have we not seen the budget go down by that amount? About 4% of the Ed budget. Somehow if we have to spend extra money, the budget goes up, but after we spend it, the expenses or should I say, the budget, never goes down.

  9. Jon Jacobs

    Really Steve? I don’t know if anything was ever “good enough for me” just because a politician said so.

  10. Steve Stein

    Jon- He was the chair of the Board of Ed with this superintendent, he is an elected republican watching over our town and money- and so far is getting nice comments from everyone. So now you are calling him a politician?? I trust some of them and definitely don’t trust others. But I try to be selective. I’ll trust him on this. My perogative.

    And I thought Casey Stengel was a great manager even though I didn’t understand what he was saying most of the time.

  11. Michele Wrubel

    I can’t say it better than Steve Halstead, so I will simply add my sincere thanks to Dr. Landon for his years of service to our school system. Our family is grateful for the education our children have received during his tenure.

  12. I would like to add my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Landon for his tireless efforts these past 16 years. He has hired every administrator and the majority of our teachers so to think that our schools would be as successful as they are without his leadership is foolish. He is a visionary who has led our schools to the forefront in nearly every aspect of education. Other districts look to us when they implement change. We are truly a lighthouse district and we owe that to Dr. Landon. My only hope is that the members of this Board of Education are wise enough to look for someone with his qualities when selecting the next superintendent. After watching their performance at Board meetings over the past few years, I am concerned about their ability to lead an effective search.

  13. Steve Stein

    Hi Bart. I appreciate your budget concerns. But it seems to me that Dr Landon was acting in the best interests of our children and under the budget rules in place at the time and could move funds from one account to another to get the HVAC job done.

    If you want to change the rules after the fact that’s fine-if you see a potential problem that you want to avert in the future that’s fine but I don’t think it is fair to attack or disparage someone for playing by the rules they are given when they are trying to get something you agree had to be done- done.

    You may not agree with me- your option- but I think Dr Landon deserves the kudos he is getting. ( I am sure he is used to taking the good with the bad after all these years of service as a Superintendent of Schools in an articlulate community like Westport.)

    • Bart Shuldman

      Steve. We will agree to disagree. But I believe I am right when I say the transfer of money was ‘unauthorized’ and compromises our budget and school system.

      How many times are we told we need to cut programs or cannot add programs as the budget has no extra money. Yet Dr Landon found over $1.4 million to cover his cost overrun. And let’s remember he, Landon’s administration hired the contractor without going out to bid, an apparent violation of municipal purchasing regulations.

      But I will agree to disagree with you. When we compromise our system, when we are told any cut in the budget will affect the classroom, and we see this type of action, it appears to me to be wrong.

    • The KHS “problem” became much more complex and expensive after Joseloff inserted himself into the middle of it. The entire effort to remedy the problem became political theater of the absurd.

  14. Jamie Walsh

    It was easy for Landon…he was paid handsomely with an education budget that could fund some third world countries and neglected the needs, dismissively, of special Ed kids and their families. Wonder how well he would have done administrating the Bridgeport school system where you need true talent and skills to ” make a silk purse out of a sows ear.” I have listened to many different neighbors and friends talk about their experiences with Mr. Landon and they overwhelmingly thought he was….less than mediocre. Good luck to him in his retirement.

  15. Steve Stein

    Hi Jamie- I guess Dr Landon is paid the going rate for superintendents of schools in affluent Fairfield County. And the budget in each of our surrounding communities would probably fund most of the third world countries we could name.

    I consider myself and our family lucky to have had access to a great school system. And I am glad Dr Landon chose Westport over Bridgeport when he was relocating 15 years ago.

    And just a suggestion- you shouldn’t repeat your sow’s ear analogy- doesn’t sound like a nice thing to say about underpriveleged Bridgeport kids!!.

  16. Jamie Walsh

    Steve…just for your information…I walk the walk and talk the talk. I do a ton of thing, both personally, professionally and as a Board member with a charitable foundation for underprivileged kids…in Bridgeport, Stamford, Harlem and the South Bronx. I am very comfortable in my skin and in my statements. If Mr. Landon needs a spokesperson and a PR guy…your the man for the job!!!

  17. Steve Stein

    Hi Jamie. Just pointing out that if you called me a sow’s ear, I would ask you to walk your walk out of my line of vision- and if I feel that way I am sure the kids in Bridgeport might be even more sensitive to that.

    And as for Dr Landon I am sure you have your own reasons to keep mistakenly not calling him doctor. I personally don’t care if you call me doctor or not and I am pretty sure Dr Landon probably cares even less- after all these years in his position.

    Finally- I am not looking for a low paying PR/spokesman job to replace my low paying medical hospital position- but one never knows and if I ever have to apply for that PR/spokes person position I will tell Dr Landon you recommended me!!

    .

  18. Jamie Walsh

    Dr. Steve…it was a “tongue and cheek” expression. Having spent a little time helping kids and families in areas far less affluent communities then ours….the resources these communities have are far less. Anytime you want to tag along with me, let me know as I will be heading to Equality Charter School in the South Bronx in 3 weeks. I am positive the Executive Director would not take exception to my reference as well as the work we do there. My point was simple… These administrators and teachers are often much more creative at making greater impacts with less resources… That is what I meant. No disrespect to anyone. Sorry you are a little thin skinned about Dr. Landon….better?

  19. Jamie Walsh

    Pardon my grammar….

  20. Steve Stein

    Hi Jamie. Thank you for the invitation to tag along. I currently work in Bridgeport and have a full schedule of responsibilities at the hospital- so I must regretfully decline. (When I am not working I have a full plate of running grandkids to various things.)

    I totally appreciate your involvement at the Equality Charter School. One of our daughters was in the Teach for America program and is currently a lead science teacher at a middle school on Amsterdam and 108th Street in NYC. So- We are fully aware of the needs of the schools and the kids in less affluent communities.

    But because of that awareness, I am also deeply thankful for the opportunities our Westport school system has afforded our kids over the years (mine and yours). And from the bottom of my heart I feel it is due to an incredible mix of annually renewed great kids, wonderful teachers and inspiring coaches who stay on for years, totally involved elected Boards of Ed and dedicated Administrators. And whether one personally likes him or not, or is willing to give him credit or not – Dr Landon has guided and advised, hired the people and directed this system for the past 15 of those years. Just my feelings on this.

    By the way- Most people who know me think I have both well developed senses of humor and fairness, as well as a reasonably thick skin (like Landon)!

    • Jamie Walsh

      Steve…point taken. Our differences are with Dr. Landon’s management style as an administrator. We are extremely lucky to have a school district that is budgeted for success and can attract the quality of educators and staff Westport has. This, as we both know, is a far greater challenge in economically challenged areas. Your daughter is clearly walking the walk…and that generally is a result of great supportive parents, family and a good education. Job well done!