At its August 30 meeting, the Metuchen Board of Education approved
a job description for the Superintendent search. The document that was approved, known as Policy 1230, could
commit our district to a path of low expectations. This becomes clear after a review of the current
To paraphrase, on page 2, Article II, the contract says that
the duties of the Superintendent shall be consistent with Board Policy 1230 and
that any changes can only be made at the discretion of the Superintendent. In other words, according to the
present contract, if the duty is not in policy 1230--the job description--then the
Board can't make the Superintendent do it.
The public has consistently asked that the job description
include a track record of quantifiable measures of academic improvement. When I ask for that, I specifically
want to see improvement in generally accepted metrics from the New Jersey
School Report Card, for example, the four-year college attendance rate of MHS
graduates. In 2010, Metuchen was
the worst district of its kind in New Jersey at getting kids into four-year
colleges--48th of 48 "I" Districts--so anyone who cares about getting
their children into a four year college should be concerned. And while our four-year attendance rate
has historically fluctuated between 62-74 percent, we have never set a goal to
achieve the average level of other I districts, which is 80%.
In response to an ongoing dialogue with the public at
meetings, the Board has commendably acknowledged the importance of academic
achievement being added to the job description. But without specifying in the job description that
candidates need to have demonstrated academic improvement according to accepted
measures, they will not achieve the improvements in performance that are so
needed. As the legendary business
writer Peter Drucker said, "What gets measured gets managed."
I am concerned that, with the approval of Policy 1230, the
Board may fall into the same trap of giving the new Superintendent a contract
that doesn't spell out our needs and leaves us exposed. To correct this, I hope the Board will
include in the Superintendent's contract specific measures used by the NJ
Department of Education, including a requirement to improve four-year college
attendance rates. It would be
awful to have wasted the taxpayers' money, and worse, left our kids at a
disadvantage compared to students from our peer districts in the State.