Groton — The appointment of Randy Collins as the interim superintendent of the Groton school district was based partly on familiarity, both he and the chairman of the school board said Thursday.
Collins, a consultant at the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and the former superintendent of the Waterford Public Schools, is also the husband of a retired Groton teacher who has met many members of the staff at social and professional functions over the years.
"His wife Pat taught here for more than 15 years," said Kirsten Hoyt, the Groton Board of Education chairman. "He goes to church in this community."
Though Collins was hired to take over the responsibilities that were the purview of Paul Kadri, the Groton superintendent who is under investigation and on paid leave, Hoyt said it was a decision by Assistant Superintendent Mary Ann Butler to accept a job in Windsor that precipitated the board's vote to hire Collins.
"We knew she was interviewing, and when it became clear that (Butler's departure) was likely, we knew we had to do something," Hoyt said. "Mary Ann had the support of the staff and the union. We would have been well served by her had she stayed. But she's doing what's best for her family."
Hoyt said she also believed the district would benefit from Collins' leadership.
"He's a very calm, get-it-done, type of person," Hoyt said. "That's what we were looking for, and, we believe, how we will be best served. I've already received numerous calls in support of him being here."
Collins retired in June 2010 after 19 years running the Waterford schools. He said his first two priorities are to get out into the schools and the community and to meet with Butler and Wes Greenleaf, the district's facilities manager, to learn more about the district's operational issues.
He said he has worked in the past with Rick DeMatto, chairman of the Permanent School Building Committee that is overseeing the shift from three middle schools to two.
"We have a working relationship built on trust already," Collins said. "And I admire the work Wes does, too. My job is to make sure things are running well and people are listened to and respected. That frees up (the) board to manage the other stuff. I believe I can help."