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District Superintendent Search Is ‘Absolutely Nowhere’

Board blames salary cap for lack of candidates

According to the Mahwah school district , the prospects of finding a permanent Superintendent  anytime soon are not good. Since Dr. Charles Montesano Mahwah has been under the direction of .

When prompted by a question from a member of the public at a board of education meeting earlier this month, Board President Tricia Shada said the search for a new Superintendent was “absolutely nowhere. The pickings are more than slim.”

Shada and the school’s administration blamed a new Superintendent salary cap for the lack of candidates for the job.

The cap, imposed by the state last year, limits the superintendent salary to $167,500, plus some potential for merit-based pay increases, district Business Administrator Ed Deptula said.

According to Shada, many of the current superintendents in other districts are staying put “because they are in the middle of three-to-five year contracts that are not affected by the new cap. We are hoping that in a year or two, as some of their current contracts expire, more viable candidates will want to come.”

Deptula said that because the cap is statewide, trouble finding a permanent superintendent is “not unique to Mahwah.” According to an NJ.com report, 26 superintendents in Bergen County retired after the 2010-2011 school year.

The Mahwah school district hired its last summer, after the board said a superintendent search didn’t yield any candidates who were “the right fit for Mahwah.” Lake can serve in the role for a maximum of two school years.

Patty kanji March 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Are you kidding me with this story? These people are making 6 figures and are complaining??? They are greedy, selfish and obviously not in the job for the kids, just the big bucks. The teachers have no contract and are still performing despite this.
Ralph March 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I couldnt agree more with you Patty. What has happened to this hiring world. Are you relling me that someone within the current school district, say the Asst. Supertendant, a good Principal or anyone else wouldnt take the job for $167,000. Heck give it to me and I'll do it for $125,000. I cant do that much worse then anyone else! The problem is that the School Board is looking for the perfect person with all the experience in the world. Where was the succession planning in Mahwah? Surely someone within the district is qualified. Poor Poor Poor planning!!!
Bob Rama March 21, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I don't think you can totally blame the BOE for poor planning on this one because Dr. Montesano retiring was rather unexpected. That being said, it is scary to think our school district has no superintendent as well as no contract for it's teachers or administrators. Feel like we are playing with fire at this point.
Ralph March 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Bob, Let me try to educate everyone on what happens outside of the Educational system as I see it. In almost every workplace that has a large number of employees regardless of the industry, succession planning goes on. That means that every person in a high position looks for and works with others in their area to replace them if necessary.This should occur because those people retire, promote or just dont work out. Superintentent positions especially should have a solid and good succession planning process, for to be without one for any period of time is detrimental to the district as a whole. I see this happening in all school districts not just Mahwah. So if blame is to be made here, then everyone involved in the Educational system should be held accountable, from the Administration to the Union to the very teachers who should aspire to move up if necessary. You are right it is scary to be in this position with the teachers not having a fair contract and the district not have proper leadership. Once again I saw Poor Poor Planning.
Bob Rama March 21, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I am not disagreeing with you, but I think everyone was caught off-guard by Dr. Montesano retiring so soon. You also have to respect the climate in NJ right now with Superintendents. Mahwah isn't the only town in this boat. Chris Christie has done a good job of thinning the available talent for superintendents.
Bob Rama March 22, 2012 at 10:57 AM
"Perhaps they are just mad that they wont have all of those extra tax dollars to dump into that fancy new Super PAC the NJEA put together." What does this even mean? Who are "they"? The BOE? Why would they use extra tax dollars to support a NJEA Super PAC? Please clarify.
Regenbogen March 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Just another mess in the Mahwah school system. Private schooling sounds better each day.
Jeff March 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Allow me to add a few thoughts ... First of all, school superintendents do not have tenure in their positions. As a result, there may be qualified building level administrators who are reluctant to make the leap to superintendent in this economy (think about it, why would a successful, experienced principal, for example, work for less money knowing that the superintendency is under fire here in NJ?). This only adds to the fact that the number of qualified candidates is indeed dwindling. I know as a parent (and child advocate) that a qualified candidate is not what Mahwah needs. Rather, Mahwah needs an experienced, highly qualified professional who understands the importance of cognitive, social, and emotional learning with regard to our children's development. In addition, the next CSA should have a proven track record of effecting cost-savings initiatives that do not sacrifice the quality of our schools. It is this phenomenon that enables school districts to continually evolve at a time when budgetary tax levy caps are stingy at best. As a community, do we not want the very best person to lead our schools in the 21st century? I'm afraid Trenton's salary cap has denied our children of that right. For me? I'll forego the cap if it means a cup of coffee or two a month out of my pocket. My children, and yours, are worth every penny!
Bob Rama March 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Malcom, this is such an ignorant statement. First of all, Don Bosco lags behind Mahwah in achievement and the amount of AP classes offered. That is a fact. Second, if Don Bosco had the obligation to offer every child in the district an education in their least restrictive environment, tuition would go through the roof. They are not even close to prepared to deal with any significant special education population. Instead, they can pick and choose who attends (and it usually involves how good at sports they are). Do you have any idea how much money Mahwah spends sending special needs kids to other districts because Mahwah doesn't have the programs for them? We are talking anywhere from $30-$100K per student sent out of district. Next, Don Bosco also has less overall school days in it's school year. They are not required to follow state mandated policies or state tests, which saves them money. Don Bosco is only a grade 9-12 school, not K-12. Don Bosco's finances are also subsidized by the archdiocese, so the tuition does not reflect the true costs to run the school. If you are going to compare prices and quality, at least make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Bob Rama March 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Oh, Malcolm. Way to glaze over the actual point I was making because you can't defend your statement. But let me address your inane objection. You said privatize the town's schools to get rid of the MEA, using Don Bosco as your model to do so. Therefore, you must be talking K-12, but Don Bosco is 9-12. Get it now? When private schools have to offer services to every child in a community, then you can start talking about comparing the costs.
Andy Schmidt March 25, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Find it ironic how this governor supposedly wants to use the power of "market forces", by allowing competition from charter schools - or promoting the idea of "school vouchers" -- but while decrying universal health care as "socialist", will completely "regulate" the market for superintendents, preventing parents from paying market rates to get the best person for the job they choose to afford.
Average Joe April 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Privatize the whole town. That's a really well thought out and developed plan you got their Malcolm! You definitely didn't go to Mahwah if you were able to come up with that!

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