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Superintendent of Schools re-ups for five-year term

John Niesz will serve until June, 2026

The board voted 6-0 to reappoint Niesz to the position.

The Bayonne Board of Education voted to reappoint John Niesz as Superintendent of Schools at a special meeting on March 16.

Niesz, former superintendent of the Keansburg School District in Monmouth County, was first appointed as superintendent in 2019. The board at the time approved a three-year contract.

Niesz replaced outgoing Interim Superintendent Michael A. Wanko and was the first permanent replacement since the board voted not to renew the contract of former Superintendent Patricia L. McGeehan in 2016.

While Niesz’s contract was set to expire in June of 2022, the board voted to reappoint him for another term. He will began a new five-year term starting in July of this year and ending in June of 2026.

Niesz’s contract will earn him $230,501 for the 2021-2022 school year, gradually increasing each year. By the 2025-2026 school year, he will make $249,683.

The vote was unanimous, except for Trustees Ava Finnerty and Pam Sclafane who recused themselves. Trustee Denis Wilbeck was absent and did not vote.

Quick work

His reappointment was quick and without drama, a stark contrast to the board’s process in 2019. Prior to Niesz’s initial appointment, the board could not unanimously agree on a replacement. Four out of the nine board members at the time had to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest, leaving President Maria Valado, Vice President Christopher Munoz, and former Trustees Joseph Broderick, Michael Alonso, and Carol Cruden to make a unanimous decision.

Alonso stonewalled a number of candidates, calling for the new superintendent to be from Hudson County. Alonso eventually joined the rest of the board in voting to appoint Niesz, only after learning he would move to Bayonne if hired.

This year, the process went off without a hitch. Alonso suffered a defeat in the November 2020 election to Trustee Dave “Doc” Watson.

Niesz thanked every trustee with a COVID-safe elbow bump.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” Niesz said. “We still have to finish this year strong, smart and finish it safely.”

Niesz has led the district though virtual instruction and other challenges posed by the pandemic. He has been at the forefront of efforts to get students back in the classroom, having worked with the city to vaccinate teachers and having completed renovations to schools so the district can shift to hybrid instruction on May 3.

Niesz aims to guide the district back to in-person instruction in September.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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