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Superintendent Search Begins, Parents Raise Concerns

Hopatcong schools seek replacement for the retiring Charles Maranzano.

A small group of residents vented their frustration with the state of the local school system to New Jersey School Boards Association  staff Thursday at a meeting set up to explain the process of searching for a new superintendent.

NJSBA field representatives Jane Kershner and Alfred Annunziata turned the comments into a list of characteristics and concerns that will be presented to the Hopatcong Board of Education as part of the search process.

The state association is helping the local board facilitate its search process.

Superintendent Charles Maranzano is retiring at the end of the school year in June. Kershner said the board hopes to fill the slot by that time, but Kershner said she told the board that if they are not satisfied they have the best candidate, to advertise the position again.

Kershner, the association’s director of field services, said advertising for the opening will begin Sunday with ads in the state’s largest Sunday newspaper and other newspapers, on the NJSBA website other websites, and with notices sent to area colleges, county superintendents and education associations.

She said that a notice that there was an “anticipated opening” in Hopatcong was posted during last October’s  statewide school board association’s annual meeting.

“The goal is to have the largest pool possible,” she said.

The board is seeking a candidate that possess the following qualifications  according to the advertisement: A New Jersey school administrator certificate, or certificate of eligibility; a superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal or central office experience preferred; classroom experience preferred.

Kershner said after the application deadline she will present the board with three folders, the first containing candidates who exceed the criteria, the second containing those who meet the criteria, and the third, those who fail to meet the criteria or are from out of state and do  not possess New Jersey certification.  The board will get all the applications, she said.

The board will make the final choice, she said.

“This is a consensus decision,” Kershner said. The board will be guided through the process to develop that consensus.

“Our job is to help them get the right fit,” she said. “I will not let them make a mistake.”

When the 15 members of the public spoke or asked questions, the topic shifted to the notion that the board has already chosen Maranzano’s successor, and a litany of complaints concerning recent reports about test scores, the district’s recently formed community task force, budget woes that impact student results and a general dissatisfaction with the board and the direction of the school district.

Kershner said the list of concerns would be presented to the board to consider as they choose a new superintendent.

Among the characteristics and concerns raised Thursday were: The need for a leader who will communicate with the public; place student achievement first, provides a vision for the district; is approachable; willing to commit to the district for  the long run;  has  experience in day-to-day management of school operations; a skilled goal-setter; displays accountability; a budget manager, someone  from outside the Hopatcong school  district; has class room experience; and is well versed in New Jersey education law.

Nucky Thompson January 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM
With Sparta (High School) soon to be approved as a New Jersey Choice District, will the last Hop Hi student please turn off the lights!
Frazure January 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM
The last paragraph of the article lists public concerns and characteristics to be presented to the Bd. of Ed. by NJSBA field reps. Many of them have merit, but one that stood out was a recommendation that the superintendent candidate be "someone from outside the Hopatcong school district". As a 35 yr. resident, having 3 children schooled in the district, serving on the Bd. of Ed. myself and knowing many of the professional educators within our school system, I would recommend the search definitely include potential candidates currently employed by the district. Someone from within is already familiar with the district issues and problems and would hit the ground running. whereas someone from the outside would not have this advantage. Regardless of whom the final chosen candidate may be, I think it would be a mistake for the board to be advised to bypass any current employee solely on that reason. That's analogous with throwing the baby out with the bath water. Common sense would dictate that internal candidates be given equal consideration.
JohnHopat January 11, 2013 at 01:01 PM
With Governor Christies Superintendent Salary Cap, most principals would have to take a salary cut of anywhere from $5k-$25k to take a larger job. The candidate pool is already slim and there are districts currently with an interim for two years. Hopatcong will be no different. The ability of the locally elected BOE to recruit and retain qualified Super is limited by Christies Salary Cap. Local money (we get limited state aid) decisions should be made by local people. Not the Governor, or his errand boy, Chris Cerf.
michele perrotti January 11, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Just to clarify... I'm not sure where that line came from "someone from outside the school district", but I do not recall that ever being discussed as a characteristic. Candidates from within the district as well as outside will be considered equally.
Emily January 11, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Cliff will do what Cliff wants to do. God help the future of Hopatcong's educational system. I love Nucky's response because it is real. I am sure the board has found another puppet to dance to their music.
Jeff G. January 11, 2013 at 09:44 PM
I'm so glad that I found out about the school choice program. While I understand that there are people working on fixing the district, I don't see this getting better for a long time. Class sizes are way to large. Courses available is lacking and when I compare the coursework to other schools at the same grade level there's a stark difference. My nephew is light years ahead of what my daughter is learning and they are in the same grade level. Can't wait to give another district a shot next year.
HopRes January 30, 2013 at 06:03 AM
That's the answer everyone - abandon the district and students and run off to choice schools. Instead of working together to better our schools and community you bash it and go. Cant wait for all the negative people to leave so those of us that are working hard to move in the right direction can get things done. The grass is not always greener remember that.

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