Who should run the Hoboken schools? Residents meet to discuss process

Who should run the Hoboken schools?
Residents meet to discuss process 
10/01/2006  Hoboken Reporter

Hoboken has more than 2,100 children in eight public schools - and now all it needs is a new person to run the district.

Current Superintendent of Schools Patrick Gagliardi is retiring. His contract expires on June 30, 2007. The Board of Education has about nine months to choose a successor.

The Hoboken schools have been controversial for years. Some parents do not believe their academic standards are high enough, while others volunteer for programs to help, considering the diverse demographics of a city that has populations very rich and very poor.

The Hoboken Board of Education recently hired the New Jersey School Boards Association to help facilitate the search for a new school leader. Statewide, the NJSBA assists in about 70 percent of superintendent searches.

The NJSBA organized a forum Wednesday where members of the public had the opportunity to discuss the process.

The process

Over the next several months, the NJSBA will help the board develop its criteria and qualifications for the job. Around January, an advertisement will be placed in the Star Ledger and on the NJSBA website to solicit applications.

Then, in executive session, the board will undertake a multi-tiered interview process to whittle the list to two finalists.

The board will then have the option of holding a forum where the public can meet the finalists for the job.

What would you ask the next superintendent?

The purpose of Wednesday's meeting was to collect information about characteristics the public believes are important in a superintendent.

The forum was moderated by Cathie Sousa, a field service representative from the NJSBA.

Sousa asked the audience what they'd ask the candidates. Some the responses were:

· "What would you like for the average SAT score to be by the end of your contract?"

· "What would you do to get parents and teachers more involved?"

· "How would you motivate a largely veteran staff?"

· "Why Hoboken?"

· "How would you function in Hoboken's 'political theater'?"

· "What are your plans to improve student achievement?"

· "What will you do to change the public perception that the city's schools are underperforming?"

· "What are important considerations for working in an ethnically diverse school district?"

It's important the Board of Education selects the right person the first time around. According to state law, the board has to give the new superintendent a contract of no less than three years and no more than five years.

Board of Ed election coming

The selection of the superintendent of schools will also be an important issue in next year's Board of Education election.

Right now, Gagliaridi's contract expires on June 30, 2007. There will be four seats up for election next April, and whoever is elected will likely be voting for the next superintendent.

Traditionally, only between about 8 and 14 percent of registered voters in Hoboken cast a ballot in school board elections, but this year there will be more at stake.

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