BRIDGEPORT — The district’s new Bridgeport Miltiary Academy High School has a principal.
Byron N. Williams was officially hired by the district this week for $133,005 a year but has been working in the district since last September. The board voted 8-0 with one abstention to approve the appointment.
Williams was not at the meeting Monday. Reached late Tuesday, Williams said this is not the first school he has helped start but is the first military-style school.
Board member Maria Pereira abstained after questioning why the district didn’t ask parents to interview Williams.
Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas said because the school is just starting, it doesn’t yet have a parents organization.
Kathleen M. Jaeger, executive director of human resources for the school district, told the board Williams salary was based on more than 16 years experience as a principal, district administrator and assistant superintendent in Philadelphia and other urban school districts.
He will earn about $2,000 more than Joseph “Jay” Lipp, a science department chair at Norwalk High School, who was hired last month to be principal of the Engineering and Aerospace School, part of the interdistrict Multi-Magnet High School on Quarry Roard, which is set to open in August.
The military academy high school, which will include only Bridgeport students, opens in the fall to 150 freshmen. Their first week will be at an orientation up at Camp Niantic, said Williams. The school will focus on careers in public safety, but will also encourage students to go to college. The school will be housed at first at the Multi-Magnet High School. The plan is eventually to relocate them to the district’s swing space school near the University of Bridgeport.
A former Marine, Williams said in addition to academics, the school will have a number of clubs such as an aviation club he hopes to put together. “I’d like to give some kids the opportunity to graduate with a pilot’s license,” he said.
Other clubs might focus on forensic science , robotics or even water safety. There will not be sports after school but an hour of tutoring and mentoring. Every student will be assigned a mentor.
“This school won’t be an alternative school,” said Williams. “Most kids want to have direction. There will be high expectations.”
More than 358 students applied for the 150 slots. There are more boys than girls but Williams said a fair representation of girls are part of the freshman class.
According to his resume, he was a principal and assistant superintendent in Philadelphia from 2009 to the present. That would make him after Vallas’ time in Philadelphia which ended in 2007.
Before that, he was executive director of an alternative education program in Virginia Beach, Virginia; a principal in Atlanta Georgia and a teacher in Georgia, Maryland and Phoenix, Arizona.
He is also a retired officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the resume.