Search for schools superintendent typically not a silent process in NJ
Parents of children who attend public school in Paterson have until Monday to fill out an online survey and voice their opinions about how the district is run today, and share which qualities they'd like the next leader of the district to possess.
An online community forum on Thursday night addressed the same topic.
"We're going the extra mile to make sure that everybody has a voice or a space at the table," Nakima Redmon, vice president of the Board of Education and chair of the superintendent search committee, told New Jersey 101.5.
This is the first time in decades that the Paterson Board of Ed has been able to make this decision without input from the state. The current superintendent of the district, Eileen Shafer, plans to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, and whomever is chosen as the next superintendent will be able to shadow Shafer to get a better feel for the district and its budgetary process.
"During COVID, we had some learning loss in the school district, so we want to make sure that our students have somebody that will push them to think outside the box," Redmon added.
Gathering input from parents and other stakeholders, according to experts, is considered best practice in New Jersey. Districts partner with outside groups or firms to run surveys and/or town halls, to ensure a transparent decision-making process.
"During the worst of the pandemic, most school districts used online surveys exclusively, but now that gathering restrictions have lessened, it’s possible to also offer parents, community members and other groups the opportunity to meet in person with a facilitator to discuss what the community wants in their next superintendent," said a spokesperson with the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Paterson Board of Ed's survey is being run by the firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, an executive search firm based in Illinois. The board retained the firm on June 23; the firm also ran Thursday's community forum.
Parents and all taxpayers in districts choosing a superintendent would be wise to keep a close eye on the decision process, "to ensure politicians and unions are not making backroom deals that can result in the job going to someone who might not be the best qualified,” according to Kyle Rosenkrans, president of New Jersey Children's Foundation.
According to nj.com, the Monroe Township Board of Education recently revealed that its acting superintendent will get the job permanently, despite backlash from residents who cited a lack of transparency and impartiality during the selection process. The school board president has repeatedly attacked the claims as untrue.