Update on Donnelly’s move from PR to Chief of Staff at CT State Department of Education

Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzel’s decision to shift Kelly Donnelly from serving as the agency’s PR person to Chief of Staff apparently comes with a $25,700 pay raise despite the fact that Donnelly has no education experience and her only education policy experience has been as the press person for the State Department of Education over the past two and a half years.

At the same time, with a Special Session of the Connecticut General Assembly scheduled for next week, today’s CT Mirror headline reads, Malloy’s ‘across-the-board’ cuts target education, town aid and social servicesThe CT Mirror explains,

To offset new taxes that have rankled business groups, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed trimming up to 1.5 percent of discretionary spending in the new state budget. But the administration’s proposal shows the bulk of the cuts would be likely to fall on education, municipal aid, health care and social services.

And a key legislator has warned that most of those areas could face even deeper cuts once the new fiscal year is underway. That’s because the new budget relies much more heavily than past budgets on undefined savings — making it likely that the governor will need to order midyear cuts.

While Malloy proposes cuts to education, yesterday’s Wait, What? post, Kelly Donnelly to become Chief of Staff for Connecticut Department of Education, reported that,

The key role of Chief of Staff for Malloy’s State Department of Education will go to Kelly Donnelly who was brought in from New Jersey in December 2012 to serve as former Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor’s PR person.

Although Donnelly has no work experience in public education and her only education policy experience is as the agency’s communications person, multiple sources confirm that Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzel will by-pass numerous qualified professional staff to hand the Chief of Staff duties to Donnelly.

Donnelly was hired as Pryor’s Communication Director with a starting salary of $82,000.

In a follow up story the CT Post wrote,

“Donnelly’s salary will increase in her new job from $82,000 to $118,000.”

Actually, as a result of the pay raises ordered by Governor Dannel Malloy, Donnelly, who is listed as an Education Staff Assistant, is presently making $92,293.25 per year.

Assuming the $118,000 the CT Post is reporting is correct, Donnelly’s promotion to Chief of Staff comes with a $25,700 boost in pay.

Kelly Donnelly to become Chief of Staff for Connecticut Department of Education

The key role of Chief of Staff for Governor Dannel Malloy’s State Department of Education will go to Kelly Donnelly who was brought in from New Jersey in December 2012 to serves as former Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor’s PR person.

Although Donnelly has no work experience in public education and her only education policy experience is as the agency’s communications person, multiple sources confirm that Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzel will by-pass numerous qualified professional staff to hand the Chief of Staff duties to Donnelly.

Donnelly will be replacing Adam Goldfarb, who resigned earlier this year soon after Stefan Pryor left Connecticut to become Rhode Island’s Economic Development Commissioner.

Goldfarb, a Yale Law School graduate, came with Pryor from New Jersey.  Goldfarb served as one of Pryor’s policy advisors in Newark, New Jersey and spent time as Pryor’s intern when Pryor worked for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Goldfarb was initially brought in under the title of Executive Assistant, but then immediately was made Chief of Staff with a starting salary of $99,000, up 33 percent from what he was making as Pryor’s assistant in New Jersey.  Goldfarb finished up his duty as a Connecticut public servant earlier this year with a salary of $116,000

You can read more about Pryor and Goldfarb at Oh, it’s good to be King, or at least Commissioner of Education and What is Commissioner Pryor’s Chief of Staff doing as the Vice President of a Charter School Board of Directors?

Donnelly was hired as Pryor’s Communication Director with a starting salary of $82,000.  It is unclear what her salary will be as the State Department of Education’s Chief of Staff.

Prior to coming to Connecticut, most of Donnelly’s experience was with political campaigns in New Jersey and Long Island although she did spend nearly two years in 2010-2011 with 1st Light Energy Inc, where she, “Oversaw residential and commercial photovoltaic (solar system) installations for the entire scope of the project.”

Donnelly, who is from Edison, New Jersey graduated from Notre Dame in 2002 with a BA in Liberal Studies.

One of Donnelly’s most recent responsibilities was serving as the agency’s spokesperson during the Malloy administration’s ongoing attempt to mislead, harass and bully parents who were trying to opt their children out of the unfair and inappropriate Common Core SBAC tests.  Her quotes can be found via any search about Connecticut’s SBAC testing scheme.