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Forum To Shape Superintendent Search Held Tuesday

Open communication and transparency among chief characteristics

Leadership. Open communication. Transparency. A commitment to ‘bottom-up’ decision-making. Community involvement.

Those were chief among the characteristics the next superintendent of schools should have, according to the 45 residents who attended a forum Tuesday to solicit community input into the choice of a new schools superintendent.

The 2 1/2–hour meeting, one of the first in a long process that eventually will choose a new leader for the school district before next school year, was held at the .  It was run by Rich Marasco, who heads Leadership Advantage, the firm contracted by the for $9,900 to help guide the process.

The meeting was part kvetch and part wish list, as residents announced what they see is wrong with the current administration and listed their hopes for the makeup of a new superintendent.

“I someone that's going to bring to Wall what we pay for in our taxes,’’ said resident Lisa Scott. “What I would really like to see more than anything is to have a superintendent that approaches the Board of Ed as a team environment ... and does have a bigger presence in the community.”

Habel, whose contract with the district had a base pay of $215,884 for the 2020-11 school year with ample additional perks, has been criticized for a lack of transparency.

Leadership Advantage is conducting the search for a replacement, culling comments from the community, teachers, parents and others into a document that will act as a blueprint of community desires in the search for a new schools chief. That document will be presented to the Board of Education to aid in its decision.

The company also will be placing advertisements in various trade and general circulation publications announcing the opening, as well as actively recruiting qualified applicants, Marasco said.

“People are going to take this job because it is a great opportunity,’’ Marasco said.

There was a fair amount of talk about Habel’s contract, which clearly irked many in the audience who derided it as opulent.

The most a new superintendent could be paid, Marasco said, is $167,500. Gov. Chris Christie has capped superintendent salaries. For a district the size of Wall, the cap is $165,000, plus an additional $2,500 because the district has a high school, according to the new rules.

But, there is a cash bonus allowed in addition to the salary of up to 15 percent, Marasco said. And other perks could be awarded by the Board of Education.

Marasco said he would expect to receive fewer than 20 resumes for the position, a low number owing in part to the new salary cap. Many schools assistant superintendents or even school principals are currently earning more than the Wall superintendent could make, he said.

“These are no longer the prized jobs they once were,’’ he said.

The ads for the position should go out in about two weeks, Marasco said, and stay open for at least seven weeks. Leadership Advantage will then begin vetting candidates, eventually presenting the Board of Education a handful of candidates to consider. All candidates would be capable of filling the position, Marasco said.

“It’s a fairly intense process,’’ Marasco said. “And we stay with the board through the entire process.”

The company has done superintendent searches in 15 Monmouth County districts, most recently in Colts Neck and Rumson, Marasco said.

One after another, residents continued to add to their laundry list of qualifications, several saying experience should trump advanced degrees and that classroom experience should weigh over business acumen.  Several residents also said they would like to see someone chosen from outside the district and who would bring enthusiasm for the job and for the schools.

“If they’re not going to be the cheerleaders for the schools, who is?’’ said resident Patti Martin.

Eric D. Brophy October 05, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Maverick- agreed. You would think that the parents/guardians of the the direct recipients of this entire exercise (and the entire purpose for the existence of the superintendent) would have more than 2.5 hours of input. Many of us were unable to be there and this "one and only shot" is completely unacceptable. It leads one to wonder if there is a preordained outcome to this "search". It is also a bit offensive for Mr. Marasco to infer that the position would only a "prized position" because of the salary. Are these potential candidates supposed to be educators or CEO's? You would hope that those that seek the job do so for the love of it first and not solely for the salary. Who would want those people anyway? I hope that the BOE would be able to spot those merely seeking a salary increase over those with true commitment to education.
Dawn Collett October 05, 2011 at 09:16 PM
There were a lot of repeated points in the meeting last night. To me that says that the taxpayers/parents feel the same way on a lot of the characteristics they want in the next superintendent. I hope that the report Learning Advantage generates will specify which points were repeated and in how many different stakeholder groups those ideas appeared. That will identify for the Board of Education the priorities which will assist them in the selection process.
Powertothepeople October 06, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Leadership. Open communication. Transparency. A commitment to ‘bottom-up’ decision-making. Community involvement. The traits we as Parents and Tax Payers in Wall deserve from our New Superintendent. The frightening part of last nights meeting for me was that even after Leadership Advantage gives the BOE it's suggestions for the position, the BOE can ignore it and pick whomever they choose. I would like to know if the BOE as a whole will choose the new Superintendent or a Committee of BOE members chosen by Mr. Habel? Also, Ms. Peter's has made it clear that the timeline will have them choosing a new Super before the election in April. Are we to believe Mr. Habel will have nothing to do with that choice? I think not.

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