By Meg O’Neil
The Newport school department’s Director of Curriculum & Instruction Caroline Frey has announced her resignation from the district effective Feb. 1.
According to Superintendent John H. Ambrogi, Frey has accepted a Director of Curriculum position in the Lincoln school district.
The news, which was made public on Tuesday, Jan. 15, comes nearly one month after the Newport School Committee narrowly voted (4-3) to approve an increase in Frey’s salary from $94,544 to $104,544, in hopes that the raise would keep her in the district.
On Tuesday, Ambrogi said that the advertised salary for the Lincoln position was between $110,000 and $112,000.
Her resignation leaves yet another top administration post vacant. For the past several months, the school department has been looking to hire a new accountant to work in the business office, and just last week Ambrogi announced he would be retiring in January, 2014, six months earlier than expected.
“We’ve got a lot of moving pieces right now, and we’ll just certainly make sure we do the best we can to keep the ship moving,” Ambrogi said.
Besides being the district’s curriculum director, Frey was also a part-time principal at Sullivan-Triplett Elementary School, so her resignation technically leaves two vacancies in the school department.
Ambrogi said that other school administrators will likely step up to help fill positions until a new curriculum director can be hired.
“I find when these things happen, people tend to pull together and pull up the slack,” Ambrogi said. “We’ll take a look at the organizational chart, my recommendations regarding changes for the future, and examine what the school committee desires in what that position should be and can be.”
Ambrogi said that if needed, he would gladly step in temporarily as part-time principal at Sullivan-Triplett.
Of Frey’s sudden move to Lincoln, Ambrogi said, “She’s always been an upwardly mobile professional, and this move is just another step in her upward mobility.”
The news of Frey’s departure to Lincoln schools is bittersweet for many in the school system.
School Committee member Rebecca Bolan, who voted to approve Frey’s raise in December, said that Frey would be a valuable asset to any district in the state. “She was sought after by more than one school district, and they were able to offer some great opportunities for advancement,” Bolan said. “It’s not always about the money – it might be about being able to see a future and a more favorable work environment … I wish her the very best, and Lincoln is lucky to have her.”
Teachers Association of Newport President David Koutsogiane also praised Frey’s work in Newport schools, calling her resignation a “huge loss to the district.” Since being hired to the Newport school system five years ago, Frey has developed the district’s yearly curriculum model and analyzes all data on standardized testing.
“Caroline is a great educational leader,” Koutsogiane said. “She’s helped to establish a curriculum that is aligned to the standards, and she’s guided the district to make educational decisions based on student data to help students raise their achievement levels. Newport teachers have a great amount of respect and admiration for her, and we wish her the best.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Frey spoke about accepting the new position in Lincoln: “The stars were aligned for me and it’s a great opportunity that I can’t pass up,” she said. “I have really loved being in Newport. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve the students here. It has been fabulous working with the teachers here. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the work they do. We have a difficult population here in Newport and it’s a difficult time in general in education. I give them a lot of credit for their focus and dedication to kids. I will truly miss them.”