At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, recommended that the Board of Education grant Steven Adamowski a one-year extension in his role as the Special Master for the Windham and New London school systems.
And then, in a surprising and extraordinary turn of events, Pryor announced that Special Master Steven Adamowski would become a state employee rather than continue on as a consultant through the State Education Resource Center (SERC), SERC being the agency Pryor used to hand out over half a million in no-bid contracts to various companies that helped him write Malloy’s education reform bill.
As reported by the Hartford Courant’s Kathy Megan, Pryor and his spokesperson explained that Adamowski’s position “belongs” at the state agency. They also announced that Adamowski’s salary would be reduced from $225,000 plus benefits to $162,000 plus benefits in order to make it “comparable to other top-level salaries in the department.”
Wait, What? readers will recall that Governor Malloy’s original education reform bill included special language that would have retroactively added five years to Steven Adamowski’s Connecticut Teachers Retirement Pension.
With the addition of his time as Special Master and his ability to purchase out of state time, the Malloy/Pryor maneuver would actually have increased Adamowski’s annual pension by as much as $35,000 or more per year.
However, as a result of the publicity generated by the media coverage (see Wait, What? blog links below), Connecticut legislators removed the Adamowski gift from the final bill.
Now two years have gone by and, out of the blue, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education announce that Adamowski will be no longer be a paid consultant but will become a state employee and is willing accepting a $63,000 pay cut.
Since Adamowski’s compensation package at the State Education Resource Center included a generous health insurance package, it stands to reason that this latest move is somehow related to trying to boost Adamowski’s taxpayer funded pension. However, it is not clear yet how the move would actually increase the Adamowski’s annual pension.
What is clear is that some extraordinary deal has taken place, but it is a deal hidden from public view.
Connecticut State Government continues to face a fiscal crisis and hundreds of vital state positions are going unfilled including critical vacancies at the state Department of Education.
In fact, the more one understands about the decision to make Adamowski a state employee, the more serious are the questions that are raised.
The Special Master position WAS NOT part of Commissioner Pryor’s infamous departmental reorganization plan that was approved by the State Board of Education in 2012. This means the position for Adamowski doesn’t even exist under Pryor’s operating plan.
Of course, any new senior position would have had to have been approved by the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Administrative Services and the Governor’s Office. Yet no mention was made yesterday that such a process had been successfully pursued.
Even if a new senior position at the State Department of Education had been created, state laws and regulations would have required some sort of effort to post the position and there would have had to have been some type of recruitment and review process before the state position could have been filed.
But in this case, no position was posted and no recruitment or review process took place leading up to the decision to make Steven Adamowski a state employee.
Equally troublesome is that the decision to make Adamowski a state employee was clearly made prior to the review process that was required before the State Board of Education could extend Adamowski’s role as Special Master.
And all of these issues are clouded by the notion that this effort is somehow related to a renewed attempt to get around the General Assembly’s decision to keep the Malloy administration from boosting Adamowski’s pension by tens of thousands of dollars a year.
The Special Master system is an unfair and destructive program to begin with.
Steven Adamowski, in particular, has used the position to undermine the fundamental rights of students, parents, teachers and local officials in Windham and New London.
The Special Master program should be eliminated but instead, yesterday, the State Board of Education took made a truly unprecedented step to continue the Special Master’s role and reward Steven Adamowski for his failures.
The entire situation should leave the people of Windham and New London, ever very other state employee and every Connecticut taxpayer asking the question….What the hell is going on…?
Governor Malloy has an obligation to immediately step forward and fill in the missing pieces to this controversy.
If Malloy doesn’t reveal what is going down then the Connecticut General Assembly must act to force the Governor and his appointees to come clean on exactly why this inappropriate action has been taken.
You can find the Hartford Courant’s story about yesterday’s meeting here: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-state-board-education-0905-20130904,0,4111459.story.
And if you want to read more about Malloy’s effort to pad Adamowski’ pension, here are some of the earlier Wait, What? blog posts;