The five-month search for a new superintendent of the Bayonne School District is in the final stretch, while the elected Bayonne Board of Education has been on a collision course of disagreement.
The problem is that five trustees qualified to vote on the superintendent have to agree because a majority of the nine-member board is required to approve the superintendent. The other four have conflicts of interest because they have family members employed by the district. Either way, a superintendent needs to be in place by July 1 when Interim Superintendent Michael A. Wanko’s contract expires.
Whether they select a permanent superintendent or another interim superintendent depends on whether the board can reach a decision on a permanent superintendent in time. The search has been at the forefront of the board’s agenda since it voted not to renew the contract of the former superintendent, Patricia McGeehan, in December of 2016.
At a meeting on June 3, unanimity eluded the board in a 4-1 vote between two final candidates. Four members, Board President Joseph Broderick, Maria Valado, Christopher Munoz, and Carol Cruden agreed on one candidate, while Michael Alonso apparently wanted neither.
Because the five trustees could not reach a unanimous decision, the board will hold another meeting on Monday, June 10, to revisit the issue and is taking precautionary steps in anticipation of a possible non-decision by the end of Wanko’s contract. After the 4-1 vote, the board passed a resolution for the NJ Association of School Administrators to send a list of potential interim superintendents to choose from in the event of continued disagreement.
“Hopefully we’ll have someone on June 10 or by the end of the month.”– Maria Valado
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The board considered hiring Assistant Superintendent and Hudson County Freeholder, Kenneth Kopacz, as acting superintendent for July and August, but the resolution was discarded before the meeting. Appointing Kopacz as acting superintendent is viable for the summer. But the large time commitment required by a superintendent is not practical for Kopacz while working as Assistant Superintendent and a county freeholder.
“We’re hoping to get it all together,” said BBOED President Joseph Broderick. “At this point, we’re still sort of on track.”
“Now we’re down to the decision process,” said Maria Valado. “We have to work with the five [trustees] who can vote on this to come to a decision. Hopefully we’ll have someone on June 10 or by the end of the month.”
“I understand the trustees are upset that we’re running out of time, but we’ve only been doing this for four months,’ Alonso said. “I’m the only one that has never worked in the school system. They like to expedite a few things because they might have more knowledge of the inside track. This is one of the biggest decisions we have to make, so I’m not going to rush it.”
Alonso, who now stands alone in his rejection of the final candidates, said that both candidates were qualified and impressive, but his vote was informed by contract negotiations.
“We’re not just voting on the person. It’s the person and the contract,” said Alonso, who takes issue with candidates’ request for travel allowances and merit bonuses, which could be based on standardized test scores. “There was a ton of stuff that both candidates wanted that I would never agree to.”
For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.