By Josh LaBella
West Haven High School Athletic Director Jonathan Capone has no regrets from his nearly 40 year tenure at West Haven public schools. The longtime teacher, coach and mentor has called it a career, and his retirement was accepted by the Board of Education. But, he’s staying put for the time being.
Capone, who was born and raised in West Haven, graduated from the high school in 1973. During his time there he played baseball, winning a state championship in 1973 as a pitcher, and basketball.
“From there I went to the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana,” said Capone. “Got my degree in physical education and health. I landed a job at Our Lady of Victory Junior High.”
Capone said he started working as a physical education teacher at Carrigan Intermediate School in 1982. He also coached student in baseball, basketball and football.
“I was at Carrigan for 17 years,” said Capone. “Then, 20 years ago, which [was] 1999, I got the athletic director position at West Haven High School.”
Capone is the coordinator of health and physical education for grades K-12 and athletic director for grades 7-12. He is also the coordinator of facilities for the board of education for after school activities.
“Everything goes through my office to use the facilities after school,” said Capone. “So youth programs, boy scouts, PTA, Christmas Concerts – everything circulates through this office back out to make sure that people who are use the facilities have what they need.”
According to Capone, he was on the Board of Education agenda to retire on May 20. His retirement was approved, but he is coming back to oversee the move to the new high school building while also handling the responsibilities he had before retirement.
“Seven years ago, we did a fairly similar situation when we made a decision to make Carrigan, a junior high school, an intermediate school,” said Capone. “So that means elementary teachers moved to Carrigan. That all had to be coordinated. They asked me to and I did it. Everything went well.”
It was for that reason, Capone said, that he was recommended to oversee the move to the new high school building. While Capone wanted to stay in the public school system, he had been offered a position at Sacred Heart Academy.
“They are a private school,” said Capone. “The state law says I can retire and collect my pension while also working at a private school.”
Capone said he was caught in a catch-22 where his contract had incentives for early retirement. If he had retired his wife could stay on his benefit plan until she was 65 and his daughter could stay on until she was 26.
Capone and Superintendent Neil Cavallaro came to an agreement where he still retired but came back to fill his old position and that of moving coordinator, but for 45 percent of his salary. This due to a state rule where a teacher or administrator can come out of retirement but can only be paid that percentage of his previous salary.
“They would have been paying me $130,000 but now they’re only paying me $58,000,” said Capone. “But I get to collect my pension. So it’s a win-win for both.”
Capone said he is going to stay for a minimum of two years. The athletic director said he is only supposed to work 45 percent of the time. He said due to the demands of the job that would be impossible.
“I’m working 100 percent,” said Capone. “I’ve got to work full time. You could never do it [the job] while working three hours a day.”