Cinnaminson Superintendent Dr. Salvatore Illuzzi will retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year after 18 years in the district.
Illuzzi submitted a letter to the Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday night that explained his desire to retire and not seek renewal of his contract, which ends on June 30, 2017.
You can read the letter in its entirety in the link below.
When Illuzzi took the reigns of the district in 1999 the school district was in disarray to say the least.
There weren’t enough books or desks for students, some sports teams didn’t have uniforms and the budget was a mess.
According to one parent’s thank you letter sent to Illuzzi this week, the schools were in “deplorable condition.”
Since then, Illuzzi oversaw the reorganization of the district, fixed the budget, improved the classrooms, improved the morale of the staff and oversaw the capital improvement project that was recently completed.
We had a chance to sit down with Illuzzi and chat about his 18 years in Cinnaminson as well as his career in education overall.
Here is our conversation.
Cinn City News: Was it difficult to write that letter and say that now is still the time to step away?
Illuzzi: The truth of the matter is, it really was not that difficult of a decision. As you said, my intention was to retire in June of 2014. When it looked like the capital project wasn’t going to happen I wrote the board a letter with my intent. In that letter I said my only regret was that we never did the high school. At that point we had been six years in planning the project. Three days after that letter the governor released the money. I stayed the three years and it’s been a great three years. We passed an incredible referendum. That being said, I had made up my mind. At the end of the three years I would retire.
Cinn City News: When you arrived in ’99 things were not in good shape in the district. If you can pick which project you’re more proud of, which one would it be?
Illuzzi: When I arrived here at the district it was not doing well, with the budget defeats and the demoralization of the staff and everybody else. It all comes back to one vote and that’s the reorganization of the district. The consequences for the township of that decision, which was very difficult, that changed this township. When Rush had its school and New Albany had its and fifth grade was at the Middle School; it just wasn’t working the way it should. We convinced the folks that the children should be together for all 12 years. The fight went three months before that vote was taken. It prevailed and I know that those who may have opposed it couldn’t believe how good it turned out years later. That’s what I’m most proud of.
Cinn City News: What are you going to miss most coming to work everyday in this township?
Illuzzi: This morning I started thinking that I’m not going to be giving an opening day talk for the first time in 34 years. This place is a throwback to a great time for kids. You put together a wonderful staff with young people who want to do good things and that is what I’m going to miss about this place. I can’t think of another district that I’ve been associated with that had this type of environment.
Cinn City News: What is it about education overall, not just Superintendent, that drew you to the profession?
Illuzzi: It was my father. He raised 10 kids. I was the oldest of 10. He was a teacher. He worked a second job as a custodian. He ran the school store. The kids loved him and I thought it would be a good profession for me. I wanted to make the contribution he made. That’s why I did it. When I told him I was going to go back to school to get my doctorate, he got really ticked off at me. He said, ‘if you’re going to go back to school for three years, go be a lawyer.'”
Cinn City News: What goals do you have outlined for your final six months on the job?
Illuzzi: We still have punchlist items from the capital improvement project; that’s number one. This is the last year of the contracts for all four district staffs. I want to settle the contracts and help the board in the succession process so that whoever does succeed me will have the building project done, have contracts in place and everything will probably be 180 degrees different from when I got here.
Cinn City News: What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make during your time in Cinnaminson?
Illuzzi: When to close for a weather emergency; half the folks thought I was correct and the other half thought I really didn’t know what I was doing.
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