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.