Brookfield Board of Education has offered the job of superintendent to Brookfield Middle School Principal Toby Gibson, board President Ronda Bonekovic said, confirming what had already been posted on Facebook by Gibson supporters.
The offer was made May 30 following interviews with Gibson and Brookfield High School Principal Adam Lewis.
“I accepted,” Gibson said of the offer. “I’m still speechless. I’m honored to get the opportunity to be superintendent at the district that I graduated from.”
He said he is excited to be working with “great people, great students and a great community.”
“I’m just looking forward to sitting down and working and getting things moving,” Gibson said.
“Toby Gibson is our new superintendent. Congrats, Toby,” Pastor Dick Smith of Brookfield United Methodist Church posted on Facebook.
“Very appreciative that the board reconsidered Mr. Gibson as a candidate,” said George Kurpe, one of a group of parents that led a petition drive and held a rally asking the board to reconsider Gibson after he was told he would not get a second interview.
“Super happy to hear the news,” Kurpe said. “He is a Brookfield guy, understands Brookfield, grew up here, went to school here, well-respected in the school. I think he is that guy that is going to bridge the gap between the school and the community.”
Gibson will inherit a district that left fiscal emergency about a year ago, but still has financial issues. Two requests for permanent improvement levies were nixed by voters.
He also will be charged with bringing up morale among the staff and community.
At the May 22 Brookfield Board of Education meeting, Brookfield Federation of Teachers President Mary Arp said she had chosen not to attend the honors banquet the night before in order to make a statement.
“It was to bring attention to the frustration felt and the low morale of the employees of this district, and for people to ask, why?” Arp said.
“Please hear us,” she said. “The BFT is asking that the board talks to its employees, not just a teacher who’s been here 27 years, but a teacher who’s been here one. Not just a teacher, but a custodian, and let’s have meaningful conversations between all the stakeholders of Brookfield Local Schools that can make a real change.”
Parent Monica Fortuna, the chairman of the two unsuccessful levy efforts, said she agreed with Arp.
“Communication around here is at a complete breakdown,” Fortuna said. “I witnessed that myself by being a part of the levy committee.”
“I know there’s people in the community that are a little disgruntled, maybe staff,” Gibson responded.
The way to overcome that is to talk to people from all aspects of the community, he said.
“I look forward to sitting down and listening to everybody,” he said.
Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor is leaving Brookfield to take the same position at Lakeview schools in Cortland. Her last day will be July 31.