Author Topic: School Superintendent Search  (Read 3607 times)

Offline itsme

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School Superintendent Search
« on: March 05, 2008, 03:49:40 PM »
As a parent of a HHS student and a homeowner, I am very concerned with the decision of the Board of Education to lower the requirement that applicants have a minimum of 5 years of central administration experience to simply 3 years. With a school administration responsible for the education of approximately 5400 students and a teaching staff that is responsible for the education of a wide range of academic levels, it is imperative that our next Superintendent of Schools be qualified to provide our students, teachers and parents with the guidance to help us reach those goals.  We should search for the best and not settle for the minimum.  The Board search should be for a person with a minimum of 5 years central administration experience and a doctorate.  The candidate should be a person with no political connection to the school system and the appointment should not be subject to the usual cronyism and nepotism of the past.  We need someone who can think independently and not be in fear of being demoted, fired or even kicked off a ticket because they dared to voice what is best for our children.  Let's reach to be a blue ribbon school.



Anthony

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2008, 07:25:14 PM »
The new Superintendent should be signed to a three year contract.  After the three years, if test scores dont improve within the district, he should be fired.  Maybe incentive clauses could be added to the contract should test scores improve.

Isnt this the way it works in the corporate world?  If the company doesnt make money the guy in charge gets fired or his contract isnt renewed.  If the taxpayers dont get results, the Superintendent should be fired.

Wait a minuteforget about test scores, since so many people disagree with their effectiveness.  How about gauging the success of the district on how many kids graduate HHS and move on to a four year college?  If the new Superintendent can improve those two statistics, he has my vote to continue.

It may seem unfair but shouldnt the guy in charge be blamed for lousy results?  He shouldnt get yearly pay raises when test scores go down.  According to http://www.nj.com/news/bythenumbers/ Dr. Montesano was the highest paid city official making $190,097 in 2006.  The Assistant Superintendent Mr. Jones was paid $155,250 in 2006.  Thats a lot of money for some of the lowest test scores in the county!!! There are lower paid Superintendents in the county whose students test scores, graduate rates, etc. are higher.  Why are we paying more for less?

The new Superintendents pay should be based on performance or else we can expect the status quo.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 11:03:42 AM by Editor »

Offline Editor

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2008, 08:41:55 PM »
Anthony,

I might agree with your thoughts about a prospective superintendent.

I disagree with your remarks about Dr. Montesano and Mr. Jones. It makes no sense to compare test scores here with those of the entire country.  To the extent any comparison is useful, you could only compare us to like-communities with similar challenges, budgets, demographics, etc.

"Blaming" makes no sense either.  Accountability is fine, but that's measured by much more than test scores.  Leadership, ability, dedication, compassion, and respect are what count. Anyone who knows these men can attest for their professionalism and character.

Show me someone in the "corporate world" with half of Dr. Montesano's expertise and I'll show you someone making MUCH MORE than $190,000 a year.  After a lifetime of committed service?

...so much for "quiet".



« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 08:47:17 PM by Editor »

Anthony

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2008, 08:29:56 AM »
Dr. Montesano and Mr. Jones are both gentlemen. 

Way back when, Mr. Jones was my 5th grade teacher and I still remember a Science project where we had water flowing on a table of dirt to show how the sediment moves down a mountainto be young again.

Blaming is probably the wrong word.  But shouldnt there be a person who is accountable?  I understand the challenges that face our community and I couldnt agree with you more on their leadership, ability, dedication, compassion, and respect.  Years ago, those qualities were enough to educate Hackensacks students.  For the most part, the system which was in place worked.  Times have changed and things are much different now.

So who is the fall guy? 

There are many more challenges facing the new Superintendent.  Whoever gets the job shouldnt get raise after raise just because hes dedicated and works hard.  He should be rewarded based on the performance of the kids.  I realize that it doesnt work this way but it should.     

Both men have committed their lives to the children of Hackensack and this post is not a personal attack on either one.  Should their commitment alone (or that of the new Superintendent) be rewarded as generously as it has been in the past without the results?

Also, people in the corporate world have the opportunity to make lots more money but its unfair to compare the two.  Since most upper management jobs are performance based, if youre not getting the job done, youre not promoted or maybe even fired.  Dr. Montesano has ALWAYS had the security of knowing his job would be there, no matter what.  To some, job security is priceless.  There are many people in the corporate world with Masters and Doctorates and lots of experience who would give their right arm for that $190,000 or even $155,000.

When Dr. Montesano retires his pension will be approximately 38/55 of his final salary and will include lifetime medical benefits.  Did he earn it?  Absolutely, because hes shown leadership, ability, dedication, compassion, and respect.  How many people in the corporate world walk out with a package like that?

Editor, you mentioned in a previous post awhile back that you went to St. Joes in Montvale and hated it.  I went to HHS and although I didnt hate it, I felt let down.  So much so, my kids are going the Catholic school route. My questions to you are:

Are you confident enough with the system thats in place now to send your kids to the Hackensack schools?  Do you think any changes should be made?  Should any administrators be held accountable or is the problem strictly the socioeconomics and language barrier?  Should we expect results from the new Superintendent or just be satisfied because hes dedicated and compassionate?
« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 11:06:20 AM by Editor »

Offline Editor

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2008, 12:24:49 PM »
To be honest, I don't have enough experience with the inner-workings of the system to say what changes should be made. 

I can say that we plan on sending our daughter (now 6 months) to Fairmount School.  We have confidence in the school system. We also have realistic expectations and understand the system's limitations. We have spoken to enough parents and educators already to make an informed decision and will do so again when the time comes.

Education is a partnership between students, educators, administrators and, perhaps most importantly, parents.  Without support from home, the system is far less effective. We know our daughter will have a good education because we will make that happen with the support of the system. 

We should expect our Superintendent to do everything humanly possible to address the challenges facing the district.  The Superintendent should not be judged solely on whether artificial, ill-conceived, state standards are met.  The system is dynamic and those leading it must be able to maneuver in a constantly shifting landscape. This leader should be willing to try different things, even at the risk of failure. 

You're right. Comparisons to the corporate world are faulty.  In the corporate world, we can say we're "in the red" or "in the black" and rate accordingly.  Measuring intangibles like accomplishment, pride, respect and intelligence is far more difficult.  Standardized tests will never do that. 

As for pay raises, I could be wrong but I think that salaries are negotiated by unions.  Raises happen by function of the bargaining agreement.  I'm not sure how you would carve out exceptions for particular offices or set any sort of meaningful milestones.  I'd be willing to listen.

There is no fall guy.  The entire community must be accountable.

Related post: Education/Charter Schools/Testing
« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 12:58:01 PM by Editor »

Offline just watching

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2008, 05:53:45 PM »
Looking at old posts, it looks like "Anthony" is bringing up the same theme that he has battled with other readers again and again.  And that theme is to blame the leadership and the system instead of the socio-economic factors, as the cause of declining test scores.  There are a few heroic examples of Charter schools that have bucked the trend, but 99% of all school systems follow the curve of expected test scores based on socio-economics.  The wealthiest communities in New Jersey have the highest test scores, the poorest cities and rural towns have the lowest, and the working class and middle class suburbs fall in between. The correlation is direct and definitive. Almost without exception, this is universally true.

We have old apartment buildings in Hackensack (anything with a fire escape) that USED TO BE filled with senior citizens. But now there are impoverished immigrant families living there, putting many kids in the schools.  These buildings are located around Anderson Park, and on Prospect Ave between Atlantic and Essex, for example. 

We have 100 year old houses that used to be owner-occupied single-family houses with middle-class families whose kids performed well on the tests.  Now the owner lives in Northern Bergen County, and the house is divided into two or three apartments with low-income or working-class tenants.  Some of these kids do well, but if you take the average of 1000 of them, the test scores will be lower. This is true all across New Jersey, wake up folks !!! These are all examples of socio-economic decline.  That is the root cause of the falling test scores.  If everything else remains the same, test scores will rise or fall in parallel with socio-economic changes.

This is not to say the school system and the school administrators are totally without blame.  I totally take them TO TASK for continuously failing, over the course of many decades, to get involved with the zoning and planning of this city. The Board of Education should start demanding changes that will positively impact the socio-economic equation.  But they aren't, and that is their biggest failure.

Offline itsme

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2008, 11:02:58 PM »
Both Mr. Jones and Mr. Montesano have given their all to Hackensack but both are retiring and Hackensack needs to move forward in a positive and new direction.  I congratulate them both and thank them for the years of service they have given our community.

Offline itsme

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 12:43:54 AM »
Our new Superintendent should be familiar with the demographics of a district such us ours and knowledgeable of programs for academic success such as those implemented in districts like Newark's North Star School.  These programs together with programs already successful in Hackensack should go a long way towards moving us to a "blue ribbon" district in which all of our children can be successful with an added economic plus where our property values would increase enticing more people to move into our district.

Offline just watching

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Re: School Superintendent Search
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2008, 12:47:06 AM »
Well put.  Nobody is going to disagree with that. 

FYI, the incredibly successful Charter School in Newark is called the Robert Treat Academy. http://www.publicschoolreview.com/school_ov/school_id/51147 

This school was founded by Essex County political king-pin Steve Adubato, Sr., who still lives on the same block of Clifton Ave in Newark.  The school is 77% Latino and the overall minority enrollment is over 95%.  1/4 of the kids qualify for free lunches.  It is currently the 4th highest ranking school in NJ on standardized test scores (this is comparing all schools, not just Charter Schools). Many students come from the upscale "Forest Hill" section of Newark which looks just like Ridgewood, and the school generally attracts the best and brightest from all of Newark.  Many students also come from poor neighborhoods as well, as indicated by the 1/4 who qualify for free lunches.  Hundreds of families apply every year, and they literally select the positions by lottery. The only criteria is that the students must live in Newark.  Well, I guess that families who "don't care" if their kids learn also don't take the initiative to apply for the School selection lottery. Therefore, to some extent there is a selective force at play in which families that don't really care about their kids' education don't place kids there. This should not diminish the success of their programs. This is a miracle school.

Families with children who "win" enrollment automatically qualify to enroll all younger children.  There are families who are deliberately staying in Newark or buying bigger houses in Newark instead of moving to the suburbs, just to keep their kids in this school. Imagine that. People wanting to live in an urban center for the school system, how ironic is that ???

Supposedly, the entire focus of the school, right from the first day of Kindergarten is to prepare children for PUBLIC SPEAKING and LEADERSHIP ROLES.  This school is nationally aclaimed as a "miracle school". It's one of very few schools ANYWHERE that buck the demographic trends. 

Hackensack would be smart to look into what this school does, and try to duplicate their magic in a public school environment.





 

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