Three will receive superintendent training next year

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON —Three Trenton Public Schools administrators are set to start training early next year to replace outgoing Supt. John Savel.

Beginning in February, Stephanie O’Connor, principal at Arthurs Middle School; Vince Porreca, principal at Hedke Elementary School; and Rodney Wakeham, assistant principal at Trenton High School will receive full central office training, which will provide them with a look at other administrative positions besides the superintendent position.

“Three very talented administrators have applied for this fast-track superintendent intern program,” Board of Education President Marie Conflitti said.

O’Connor, Porreca and Wakeham will receive 55 hours of instruction on the role and duties of the superintendent as they relate to the district in five workshops scheduled before the beginning of 2010-11 school year.

Conflitti said the training will allow them to have background information on the superintendency before starting their job shadowing of Larry Leapley, a former district superintendent who will take over on an interim basis starting July 1. Savel’s last day will be June 30.

He announced his retirement last year under an incentive program offered to school employees statewide by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

“Trenton is a great place,” Savel said of his time in the district. “I plan to approach the next few months as I did the first few months, and that’s to work as hard as I can to provide the best program possible for all our students.

“That’s what I’ll be doing till the last day.”

Leapley, who was trained for years through the district’s administrative development program, retired in 2004 and was succeeded by Savel. The district has trained other administrators through internships in the past. The current program was limited to internal candidates; 16 were eligible and O’Connor, Porreca and Wakeham applied.

The three will job-shadow Leapley, with each taking a turn running the district. Leapley will be available by phone and e-mail on those days.

The interns will maintain their current positions while learning the ins and outs of being a superintendent, with training to include budgeting, funding, staffing, bond issues and curriculum. They also will learn about state and city rules and regulations; negotiating contracts; and working with the board, employees and parents under adverse circumstances.

“We are confident that Dr. Leapley, interim superintendent, will provide all the necessary training and mentoring during the superintendent internship program,” Conflitti said, “and we look forward to seeing this program in action.”