'I've been blessed:' Trumbull assistant superintendent named Woodbridge schools superintendent

TRUMBULL — The school systems in Trumbull and Woodbridge may appear different, but they both have the same educational philosophy, according to Assistant School Superintendent Jonathan Budd.

Budd, who was in his sixth year in Trumbull, recently resigned his assistant superintendent job to become the superintendent in Woodbridge. Despite being much smaller than Trumbull’s 10 schools and 7,000 students — with a single prek-6 school and 800 students — Budd said the two districts had similar high expectations and a willingness to do what it takes to achieve them.

“In my time in Trumbull, I have truly been blessed and benefited from 16 different board members, three superintendents, two first selectman and a lot of other people who all do the right thing when it comes to education,” Budd said. “That’s not true everywhere, but it is in Trumbull, and I think it will be in Woodbridge.”

Budd, who was named to the assistant superintendency in 2015, said he will leave Trumbull having gained valuable experience along the way.

“Trumbull benefits from having a large and supportive community with great diversity,” he said. “I’ve benefited from the opportunity to see 7,000 students growing and having an educational experience that includes a really comprehensive and rich curriculum.”

The school curriculum’s richness is partially due to Budd, said school board Chairman Lucinda Timpanelli. During Thursday’s budget session, Timpanelli described Budd as a dedicated educator with an “unyielding approach to solving issues that is unparalleled.”

During his tenure, Timpanelli said, the curriculum committee has approved 120 new textbooks and 64 new course offerings and the policy committee has approved 37 new guidelines and revised 149 existing ones.

“And the Teacher Evaluation Committee was resurrected from the dead to become a productive, working task force,” she said.

Superintendent Martin Semmel, who has been on the job only since September, said in his time working with Budd he has been impressed with his tireless approach to every task.

Despite the two districts’ size disparities, Budd said his approach would remain the same.

“It will be the same as I’ve tried to bring to Trumbull, with one difference,” he said. “Really get to know every teacher, every parent, every child. In a smaller district, that’s something you can do even more.”

One challenge that Woodbridge faces that Trumbull doesn’t is the need to operate as part of a regional K-12 school system.

Woodbridge, with a population of just under 9,000 residents, is part of Region 5 with Bethany and Orange. Woodbridge operates Beecher Road School, a Pre-K through 6 elementary school. Bethany also operates a single elementary school and Orange has four schools.

Each town has its own superintendent and Board of Education. Additionally, Region 5 has its own superintendent and school board and operates Amity Middle School’s two campuses in Bethany and Orange, and Amity High School in Woodbridge.

“It is a unique challenge having four school districts, four superintendents, four boards, with each district retaining its own autonomy,” Budd said. “The four BOWA (Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge, Amity) districts — they don’t have to do what the others do, but ultimately all the kids do graduate from the same high school.”

But even within the three districts that feed into Region 5, Budd said there were some differences among the many similarities.

“In Woodbridge, they start learning world language in kindergarten,” he said. “Swimming is part of the K through five phys. ed. curriculum because they have a pool at the school.”

But as excited as he is for the new opportunity of leading a school district, Budd said Trumbull schools would thrive if the administration, staff and community kept one thing in mind.

“Ultimately it’s about the students,” he said. “Decisions have to matter to the students and Trumbull will continue to do great things as long as they are truly listened to and as long as students remain the key focus.”