Golden to retire; Isola named superintendent

Staff Writer

There will be a change in leadership in the Howell School District on July 1.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Joseph Isola will take the reins of the K-8 district that day following the retirement of Enid Golden on June 30.

Golden’s retirement and Isola’s appointment as superintendent were both announced at the March 12 meeting of the Howell Board of Education.

The search for Golden’s replacement was conducted inhouse.

Neither item was on the agenda that was provided to the public prior to the meeting. The acceptance of Golden’s retirement and the appointment of Isola were added to the agenda following an executive session the board held prior to the public portion of the meeting.

Separately, Golden’s retirement and Isola’s appointment each received unanimous support from the board.

Speaking about Golden’s decision to retire, board President Stephen Levine said, “Tonight is bittersweet. It is with sadness that I recognize I will not be completing this year as president with Enid as superintendent. However, I think this board has found an incredible person to serve as the new superintendent.

“The path Enid created is truly amazing, and by extension I am sure it will be followed and furthered by Joe. I have no doubt the children of our district, current and future, can and will only benefit from what Joe will bring. I think the unanimous vote to appoint Joe is a statement of respect,” Levine said.

Golden has worked in Howell for 19 years. Each member of the board spoke fondly of the work she has done during her 12-plus years as superintendent and with optimism about the work Isola will be doing.

“I think I speak for all of us when I say I am very excited to see what Joe will bring to the district, and of course to thank Enid for all her hard work over the years,” board member Tim O’Brien said.

“You are two of the most committed, dedicated, knowledgeable people I have had the pleasure to work with,” board member Suzanne Brennan said. “We are fortunate for the both of you.”

Howell Township Education Association (HTEA) President Jaqui Tennent spoke on behalf of the organization and said, “Enid, I wish you a wonderful, healthful and happiness filled retirement. To Joe, both myself and the HTEA are looking forward to working with you.”

In an interview, Golden said, “I’m 65, I’m ready to retire. I sent a letter districtwide to all the staff so they know it is coming. I am so touched by words. … I have never watched a board meeting on tape afterward, but I am downloading this [meeting] and saving it for any bad day I have in the future.

“You leave when things are good, not bad. There are times I would have loved to [walk away from the job], but right now we have the right people here. We have an outstanding staff, top-notch administration and a board that works with each other. Joe is inheriting a fabulous board and district,” Golden said.

Isola, who has been an employee of the school district for 10 years and an assistant superintendent for three years, spoke briefly about his intentions for the district and thanked the board members for their confidence in him.

“I am almost speechless. Your remarks are humbling. … I watched Enid’s leadership for 10 years,” he said. “We have been blessed with her leadership, and I am so excited about the future. The challenges are enormous, but with our leadership team in place, I know it will not be a problem.”

Isola began working in the school district in July 2004 as the principal of Howell Middle School North. In 2011, he was named assistant superintendent.

Looking ahead, he said, “I want to continue the forward movement with the district that Enid has already set forth. We are in the process of working on our strategic planning, so there is going to be a lot coming from that. “Outside of that, I am excited to get into the one-to-one technology initiative we have going for our students [where each student will have access to a computer or a tablet]. It truly brings this district into the 21st century and really provides … some awesome learning opportunities,” he said.

Board member John Van Noy said the superintendent’s job was not advertised after board members learned that Golden would be retiring.

“The board has the right to hire from within, and that is what we decided to do,” Van Noy said. “Joe was the recommendation from Enid, and the board was in favor of that.”

O’Brien said he could not give his opinion on the question regarding the board’s decision not to advertise the job. He said that question would have to be asked of the board president.

Levine, the board president, could not be reached for comment on the decision not to advertise the superintendent’s position.

Business Administrator Ron Sanasac said Golden’s ending salary with the district will be $188,246.

Sanasac said that according to state regulations governing a superintendent’s salary, a district the size of Howell will put Isola’s initial base salary at $165,000.

The salary can be increased in accordance with the regulations when a superintendent meets certain goals established by the board. Sanasac said those goals and their monetary value would be discussed at a later date.