An About Face On Top Schools Administrator Position
Board splits vote, but hires new curriculum head
Just months after a top administrator post was slated for elimination, the Board of Education on Tuesday voted to hire a new curriculum director.
In a split, 5-3 vote, the board voted to accept the recommendation of Schools Superintendent James Habel to hire, for an unspecified amount of money, Mary Jane Garibay to lead the curriculum direction of the district.
Board members John Tavis, Anne Moonan and Robin Cervantes voted against the hire. Deidre Kukuka, Laurie Cannon, Donald Herbert, Melissa Peters and Joseph Tonzola voted in favor. Eva Applegate was absent.
Habel told the board that the decision to hire a curriculum director came from the board at a retreat meeting in August. Later, Moonan contradicted Habel’s interpretation of the events of that day, saying she was unaware the topic was going to be discussed. Cervantes echoed the statement.
“I’m afraid that this (hire) will turn around and it will lead to further cuts out of frustration from our public and that we may have to cut other programs,’’ Moonan said. “That is my fear.”
During the April school board elections, Habel previously said there was an administration position being cut under a proposed budget and that the duties of the curriculum director could be assumed by Assistant Superintendent Sandra Brower.
The former curriculum director, Marianne Gaffney, left the district in July to take a similar job with the Cherry Hill School District. She was paid $130,000, according to state records.
Prior to the vote the district’s elementary school principals stood while Allenwood Principal William Carson read a statement of support for hiring a new curriculum director.
It did not sway some of the board.
“We should have sought financial savings through attrition in this position,’’ Cervantes said in a prepared statement prior to her vote against the hire.
Cannon in a short speech before voting in favor said that letting the position go dark would not save the taxpayers in the long run.
“This is not a new position,’’ Cannon said. “In my opinion a district of this size cannot operate without a curriculum director.’’
Tonzola said after some research he came to decide that not hiring a new curriculum director would be detrimental to the district.
“I think its very essential,’’ Tonzola said. “If we did away with this position, in the long run we would be hurting the taxpayer.’’