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Board Ends 'Exhausting' Search, Officially Hires New Superintendent

Current Ramapo Indian Hills Superintendent Dr. Lauren Schoen will make the maximum allowed under the state-imposed superintendent salary cap, officials say

Come July 1, Mahwah schools will have a permanent leader for the first time in two years.

Dr. Lauren Schoen, a former elementary school teacher and principal and current Superintendent of the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District in Oakland and Franklin Lakes, was officially hired by the Board of Education as Mahwah’s new Superintendent at a meeting Wednesday night.

The board approved a five-year contract for Schoen starting this summer, which district business administrator Ed Deptula said will pay the most the district legally can.

“We are prepared to offer the maximum amount allowed [under the state’s superintendent salary cap], which is $167,500,” he said Wednesday. The contract will likely also include the possibility for a 15% merit-based pay raise, Deptula said.

Under the cap, superintendents are eligible for merit-based pay raises based on goals that are put together by the school and reviewed by the county before the raises are approved, he said.

Schoen was welcomed to the district with open arms Wednesday.

The search for a permanent superintendent to replace Dr. Charles Montesano, who retired in 2011, “was an exhausting process,” Board President Tricia Shada said. Schoen’s application “stood out like a shining star. I can’t wait to welcome [her] to the district.”

Schoen thanked the board for their decision, and said she is looking forward to her move to Mahwah.

The district, “has always been one that I admire and…wanted to be a part of,” she said.

Schoen said her 25-year career in education has helped prepare her for the role. She started her education at the Military Academy at West Point, but was honorably discharged from the Academy after deciding to pursue teaching. She graduated from William Paterson University, received her Master’s from St. Peter’s College, and her doctorate in 2006 from Seton Hall.

Schoen started her career as an elementary school teacher in Saddle River, and subsequently served as a Vice Principal in Oak Ridge, Principal and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum in Hasbrouck Heights, and Superintendent in Rochelle Park. She has been Superintendent at Ramapo Indian Hills since 2009.

Schoen was hired after two rounds of a Superintendent search carried out by consulting firm R-PAT Associates. The initial search in 2012 did not yield any candidates the board wanted to hire.

This year's search yielded about 20 candidates for the job, officials said.

For the past two years, interim Dr. Karen Lake has served in the role. Wednesday night, Shada thanked Lake for her service to the district, which will continue through the end of this school year.

“Dr. Lake has served us so well,” she said.

Lake offered her congratulations to Schoen for landing the permanent job, noting that the district “has been a wonderful place to me,” and wishing her successor luck in her new position.

Schoen announced earlier this week to parents and students at RIH that she was leaving the district this May for the job in Mahwah.

Immediate past RIH board of education president Ira Belsky released a statement Wednesday expressing her regret at Schoen’s choice to leave the distict.

“I was disappointed to hear that…Schoen has tendered her resignation and will assume a comparable position in Mahwah. During my tenure on the Board…I came to know Lauren as an exceptional educational leader who was committed to enhancing the academic performance of our students and to ensuring high quality in-class instruction from all district teachers. Mahwah’s gain is a great loss for RIH. Dr. Schoen will be difficult to replace.”

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Peter Fenzel February 07, 2013 at 04:41 PM
While the Board may have been fatigued, the misuse of the gerundive form, or present participle, fails to describe a comprehensive or all encompassing search. The adjective, exhaustive, would have been the better choice, and the better example to our studentry. Welcome Dr. Schoen.
DK February 07, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Perhaps the Board is still in a perpetual state of exhaustion.
Mike Kupchik February 08, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Just how did our School Board and the town survive saving 335 grand these last two years without a Super? Hasn't one north Jersey town coped, after dismissing their Town Administrator too? Now see our Library Board's not returning funds anymore, just as well, as they have quarter-million basement steps. With internet improvements, libraries may soon be unnecessary. Might also be time to tell those who rule to scrap our 6-1/4+ million surplus, and give us a tax-cut, for a refreshing change of pace. Could even make web and TV news.
Bob Rama February 08, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Pretty sure the interim superintendent was getting a healthy 6-figure salary from the district.

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