Ben Small Answers Our 3 Questions for Board of Ed Candidates

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1)  Do you think that the committee which chose the new principal for the HS took into consideration the comments and suggestions the community extended the administration during the superintendent's Forums?  Were you happy with the process?

Yes.  All (3) of the District's search committees incorporated the comments and suggestions from the public received at the (2) superintendent's forums and the on-line surveys for those members of the community that were unable to attend the forums in person.  The following link to the Metuchen School District website details the process, forum and survey results from the committees. 

The three committees formed were:
1)   Committee comprised of Metuchen teachers, administrators and central office administrators including the Superintendent 
2)   Committee comprised of Metuchen district administrators, supervisors and central office administrators including the Superintendent 
3)   Committee comprised of (7) Board members, Director of Curriculum and the Superintendent
I am very pleased with both the process and the outcome of our Metuchen High School Principal search.  The Superintendent involved the public from the very beginning of the process, performed a nationwide search, prepared an excellent advertisement for the position (which has subsequently been commended and used by other Districts), required a full portfolio from each applicant, had 15 of our very best faculty and administration perform paper-screenings of the applicants, using a rubric approach for consistency, performed three levels of interviews, the last level consisting of the Board, Superintendent and Director of Curriculum and had the very difficult choice of selecting one of the three, highly qualified finalists.  All of which would do a great job as our next Metuchen High School Principal.  There was unanimous consent among the Board regarding the Superintendent's recommendation.  Bruce Peragallo stood out as the best candidate of the three finalists based upon his leadership skills, proven ability as a change agent, Statewide and collegiate experience in curriculum development, vested interest as both a faculty member, resident and parent in our community and most importantly, his focus on making the Metuchen High School students, his first priority.
2)  Are there any positions in the district administration where those responsibilities could be doubled up in order to save money?
We continually assess how to do more with less in the school district.  This is regularly performed by me and my fellow Finance committee members at our committee meetings committee members at our committee meetings as well as part of the annual budget process and on a daily basis by the District's administration.  We always need to be mindful of spending.  With that said, each and every central office administrator including the superintendent and each subject area supervisor has more than one job assignment.  The Supervisor of Science also serves as the Supervisor of the Gifted and Talented programs; the Supervisor of World Languages also serves as the supervisor of the Fine Arts & Performing Arts which includes Music and Art; the Supervisor of Mathematics also serves as the Supervisor of Practical Arts; the Supervisor of Language Arts also serves as the Supervisor of Social Studies; the Athletic Director also serves as the Supervisor of Health and Physical Education.  
At the Central office, the central office administrators also serve multiple roles.
The Director of Curriculum also serves in the role of Principal of Moss School; the Director of Special Services also serves as Supervisor of the Special Education which is the largest department in the District;  our Business Administrator (equivalent of a CFO in the non-education world) also serves as the Board Secretary and our Superintendent (equivalent of a CEO in the non-education world) also serves as our VP of Personnel.
Many districts have two employees in each of the latter nine positions were we only have one (i.e. 18 employees vs. 9 employees to cover these areas).  That being said, we continue to look at how to be as efficient and cost conscious as possible.  The 2011/2012 budget will force us to make some difficult financial decisions.  Personnel will be one of them.  The Budget Advisory committee being formed by the current Board and Superintendent will address these challenges with participation from members of the community and other District staff. 
3)  Where do you think the next batch of capital improvements needs to be done in order to accommodate the purported increased  enrollments over the next few years in our district?

As a member of the current Board, we have continuously reviewed the projected class sizes and facilities capabilities presented by the Superintendent.  The Board previously approved (earlier in 2010) the purchase of an accordion partition for Campbell school to divide one large room into two to accommodate the additional 1st grade students projected to be entering Campbell in the fall 2010. 
In addition, I agree with the Superintendent's recommendation to create an Ad Hoc committee to study District demographics and future facility needs.  Demographics are important because we need to assess if this year's current kindergarten class is a bubble or reflective of a growing population (the projected Kindergarten class size for the coming 2010/2011 school year would suggest that it is an anomaly).  I do think we need to continuously study our current facilities and understand implications of our student population which is growing a little bit each year.  I believe this growth is in large part due to families moving to Metuchen to take advantage of the high quality of education we provide in the Metuchen School District.
Another important consideration is that our community has supported the investment of $40 million in the last two referendums on facilities improvements.  As a current board member, we have developed a comprehensive maintenance plan to help protect this investment for current and future generation of students.
Lastly, the State's Economic Development Authority approved the sale of up to $2 billion in bonds this week for statewide school construction projects in the coming years.  In the event of a surge in enrollment in the District, this could be another possible avenue to explore for funding.

1 Comment

There is no reason that I can see that prevents why department heads cannot teach a few classes. Bear in mind that Metuchen is a small school district and many schools our size have department heads teaching a few courses in addition to their supervising jobs. Just look at some of the "double jobs" you have listed than consider how small our district is and how much our kids would benefit by having some more teachers in the classroom.

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  • jack bauer: There is no reason that I can see that prevents read more

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