KENT—The Board of Selectman and Park & Rec Commission focused on the need for rapid action in attracting a new Park & Recreation director during a transitional meeting Monday morning.
Park & Rec Director Jared Kuczenski has submitted his resignation and dismayed commissioners are feeling pressed to find his replacement expeditiously. The Selectmen are responsible for hiring the new director, but the Park & Rec is to form a subcommittee to conduct the search.
But before such work can commence, a new job description had to be crafted. The Park & Rec Commission met last week to address the job description and forwarded a document to the Selectmen that virtually mirrored the one used in hiring Kuczenski, despite the rec director’s unhappiness with some of its provisions.
Among the provisions not changed was the requirement for the director to act as secretary. Kuczenski had pleaded with the commission to change this requirement, suggesting that the director ought to be allowed to focus on higher-function tasks.
P&R Chairman Michael Perkins reported that the director-cum-secretary provision is part of the commission’s bylaws. “This is one where we got feedback from Jared, but our bylaws explicitly state it is one of the roles of the director,” he said. “I’m not comfortable taking it out, but I know Jared’s opinion that the director should not be the secretary. We could alleviate this by relieving the director of that duty on a meeting-per-meeting basis.”
He said commissioners could share the task, each one taking it on for a month in rotation.
Selectman Lynn Mellis Worthington, the new Selectmen’s liaison to the commission, remarked that a paid secretary would be a better solution.
The commission also opted not to change the 40-hour work week provision, leaving that as a minimum requirement with the caveat that night and weekend work would be required. When the issue came before the Board of Selectman Monday, however, there was discussion about allowing comp time when the director had worked additional hours.
Out-going First Selectman Jean Speck noted that the town does not have an official comp time policy. Perkins said that the job requires a minimum of 40 hours a week to be done properly and that Kuzcenski frequently exceeded that.
Kuzcenski listed it as a frustration he had experienced. “We need to get that worked out,” he said. “If you have people nickel and dime-ing the director, especially at the price we pay compared to other towns; if you have weeks when you have program after program after program that the director has to supervise and then you say, ‘Tough luck,’ [if he wants comp time] after working a crazy week—there has to be give and take. Park and Rec is not a 9-to-5 job where you leave your work on the desk and come in Monday. I know there was friction in Town Hall over the way I worked my hours, but it has to be worked out. It needs to be clarified so next person doesn’t run into the frustration I experienced.”
The Selectmen concluded, however, that it is a salaried position and left the hours intact with the addition of the words “a minimum of 40 hours.”
Speck noted the existing job description required the director to report to the Park & Rec Commission and not to the Board of Selectmen. “I was Jared’s supervisor, but he reported to Park & Rec,” she said. “It’s a subtle, but really important distinction.” She said that because the recreation director is a town employee, he or she should report to the selectmen, not the recreation commission.
“As a Town of Kent employee, from a labor reporting structure, the director needs to report to a supervisor in the Town of Kent structure, which should be the first selectman,” she said.
She said an effort is being made to standardize job descriptions. “They all should be consistent so anyone picking up a job description knows that all the reports are the same thing across the spectrum of employees.”
Kuczenski agreed. “For an incoming director, it can be confusing and can lead to frustrations,” he said. “When I started, it was tumultuous and confused. I do feel it needs to be ironed out.”
Compromise wording now requires the director to report to the first selectman for day-to-day operations and to the Park & Rec Commission for broad-ranging programmatic issues.
The Board of Selectmen “very begrudgingly” accepted Kuczenski’s resignation.