South Orange-Maplewood School Board Discusses Superintendent Search, Addresses Scheduling Concerns for Student Athletes

In a recent meeting of the South Orange-Maplewood School Board, the primary focus was the process of finding a new superintendent for the district, with the board engaging in a discussion about the search process, timeline, costs, and the need to incorporate community input. Additionally, concerns were raised about the negative impact of the current schedule on student athletes, with parents highlighting the excessive number of classes missed due to athletic commitments.

The meeting commenced with the introduction of Charlene Peterson from the New Jersey School Board Association, who presented on the intricacies of conducting a successful superintendent search. Peterson laid out the three options the board could pursue: appointing an Acting Superintendent if the current superintendent was unable to fulfill their responsibilities, hiring an Interim Superintendent if the post was vacant, or hiring a permanent superintendent through a contractual relationship. She also outlined the qualifications for a permanent superintendent, including the possession of a School Administrator Certificate, residency in New Jersey, and approval from the County Superintendent.

As the meeting delved deeper into the superintendent search process, Peterson emphasized the importance of transparency and public awareness. The need for confidentiality was highlighted, but so too was the value of keeping stakeholders informed about the process. The board was presented with various steps involved in the search, including the decision to independently conduct the search or hire a search firm, determining the scope of the search, and weighing up costs and fees associated with hiring a consultant.

The discussion further touched on the possibility of considering internal candidates before expanding the search externally. Peterson noted that some boards would have an ad hoc committee for initial legwork, but ultimately, the entire board would be responsible for conducting interviews and making the final decision.

Cost considerations were also discussed in great detail, with the least expensive option starting at $1,000 and the most expensive reaching $12,500. Additional costs such as advertising and background checks for candidates were noted, as was the typical 30-day application window. Some board members raised concerns about the aggressive timeline, noting that if they wished for a superintendent to start by July 1, the process would need to be completed by April, taking into account the notice period required for the selected candidate’s current district.

Board members acknowledged the importance of having a clear vision of the district’s goals and the desired leadership qualities for the superintendent. They also considered administering personality tests during the interview process, provided they were legally permissible. The board agreed to involve stakeholders through surveys, input sessions, and open dialogues, with the goal of creating a safe space for the community to voice their opinions.

In addition to the superintendent search, the meeting also addressed the impact of the current schedule on student athletes. Parents such as David Kman and Melanie Hurg highlighted the excessive number of classes missed by student athletes, with Hurg suggesting a return to the previous schedule, where ninth period was used as a conference period, to allow students to attend class without conflict.

The meeting concluded with the board acknowledging these concerns and scheduling future meetings to address various matters. The board resolved to adjourn into executive session to discuss matters of attorney-client privilege and personnel.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor
School Board Officials:
Kaitlin Wittleder, Elissa Malespina, Nubia DuVall Wilson, Arun Vadlamani, Bill Gifford, Courtney Winkfield, Johanna Wright, Regina Eckert, Qawi Telesford, Gwyneth Brown, Asa Glassman, Dr. Kevin Gilbert (Asst., Supt., Access & Equity District Title IX Coordinator and District HIB Coordinator), Robin Curry (Confidential Secretary to the Asst. Supt., Access & Equity)

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