NJSBA Search Consultants Present Timeline for Hiring Process of New Superintendent

New Jersey School Board Association field search consultants presented a timeline to the public of the new superintendent search, the board's expectations and sought community input at a forum held on Dec. 9

Jane Kershner, left, and Charlene Peterson of the NJSBA present facts of the hiring process of the new superintendent to the community at WOHS on Dec. 9. Photo Credit Melinda Stevens
Jane Kershner, left, and Charlene Peterson of the NJSBA present facts of the hiring process of the new superintendent to the community at WOHS on Dec. 9. Photo Credit Melinda Stevens
The West Orange Board of Education sponsored a Superintendent Search Community Forum in the West Orange High School auditorium on Dec. 9, in an effort to inform the community of the district’s current process in finding a superintendent.


At the request of the school board, Jane Kershner, Director of Field Services, and Charlene Peterson, a field representative, with the New Jersey School Board Association, sought community input, presented a timeline of what the community can expect over the next few months during the hiring process and gave a copy of the advertisement for the position that has been posted on local media outlets already.


“Your school board asked us to get input from the community as well as from school administrators and staff on the superintendent search, so this is why we are here tonight,” Kershner said at the Dec. 9 forum.


“We are hoping to be your voice in the process,” Peterson said at the forum.


Kershner stated that herself and Peterson worked with the board in determining what the advertisement would say and what would be required of all candidates who apply.


The qualifications each candidate should meet and have, according to the advertisement, include: a NJ School Administrator Certificate; experience as a superintendent; high school experience preferred; demonstrated record of achievement and education leadership with strong interpersonal and communication skills.


“These are qualifications the board wants the candidates to meet, but the ones that the board would like to be absolutely required by each candidate is that they have the NJ School Administrator Certificate and are or have been a superintendent in the past,” Kershner said at the forum. “If an applicant does not meet these, they will not even be considered for an interview.”


Kershner also stated applicants who are or only have been assistants to superintendents will “not be considered.”


Other items the advertisement states is that the successful candidate will have proven leadership in personal management, curriculum and instruction, finance, community interaction, special education and long range planning, according to a hand-out given by Kershner and Peterson.


Kershner stated the advertisement of the position was posted in the Star Ledger on Dec. 8 and will run again in the newspaper on Dec. 15 and Jan. 12, 2014. The deadline for applicants for the superintendent position will be Jan 24, 2014 by 5 p.m.


According to Kershner, once all the applications are received, herself, Peterson and one other search consultant will go through the applications and pick qualified candidates for interviews with them. After those interviews, the search consultants will present the applications, interview questions and answers of all the candidates they interviewed and recommend ones to be further interviewed by the board.


“All of the paperwork comes to us ad we will see who would be good for an interview,” Kershner said. “We will follow the criteria the board is asking the candidates to meet during our interviews and then we will come back to the board and give them all the information and our take on each interview. We work with them with everything then they go through the applicants we recommend.”


Kershner said the final decision would be made by the board and to her knowledge; Interim Superintendent James O’Neill will be involved in some aspects of the process.


Some residents asked whether or not the community was going to be involved in the interview process and Kershner stated she could bring the idea back to the board, but that she would “not recommend” that to the board members due to confidentiality purposes of the candidates.


A resident also asked if it was possible to have the final candidates be presented to the public in a forum-like setting so they can ask questions before the board casts a vote.


Kershner stated she would bring that request back to the board from the community.


Another resident asked whether or not the cap imposed by Gov. Chris Christie on superintendent pay would affect the turnout for the number of applicants.


Kershner stated at the forum that despite the cap, there has been an “up tick” in the number of applicants for superintendent positions through their experience in searching for superintendents over the years.


“We have not seen fewer candidates interested, but the candidates who apply will most likely be people with experience as a superintendent, but not 25 years of experience since the more seasoned people are retiring or going elsewhere because of the $175,000 cap,” Kershner said.


The hand-out given to residents by Kershner and Peterson also included four questions and requested residents answer them and email them to Peterson by Dec. 19 at cpeterson@njsba.org, with West Orange Search in the subject line.


The questions are:


  1. What are the strengths and achievements of the West Orange School District and community?
  2. What critical issues will the school face in the next 3-4 years?
  3. What background/training/experience should the new superintendent have?
  4. What leadership style/personal characteristics are important in a new superintendent?


The search consultants will be with the board of education every step of the way, according to Kershner, and stated that the board will be the only entity with the final say on picking the new superintendent.


“It is nobody else’s job to hire the superintendent except the board and we only make recommendations,” Kershner said. “We come in unbiased and have this process that is tried and true.”


The West Orange Board of Education Superintendent Search Calendar provided by Kershner and Peterson on the handout is as follows:


Sept. 4 and Oct. 7: Refine process, begin board criteria development. Approve input processes (if desired)


Dec. 8, Dec. 15 and Jan. 12, 2014: Ad appears in Star Ledger and information to be distributed to associations, colleges, county superintendents, etc. and posted on NJSBA and other websites.


Dec. 9: Meetings with community and staff


Jan. 24, 2014: Deadline for receipt of completed applications


Feb. 3, 2014: Consultant delivers weighted pool to the board. Board approves interview schedule and questions.

Board also reviews applicants and selects candidates for interview.


April 1, 2014: Board submits new contract to County superintendent for approval


May 1, 2014: Board hires and publicly approves new Superintendent and introduces superintendent to staff and community.


July 1, 2014: New superintendent begins work in district, 60 days after appointment date.


*In between Feb. 3 and April 1, 2014, the board will meet for a superintendent contract training, conduct first round interviews, second round interviews, select finalists and their references, among other items at dates that are currently TBD.


Adam Kraemer December 11, 2013 at 06:25 AM
This is flaud process. If you are elected to a school board you should have a good idea as to what you want in terms of a person to lead the school. Hiring consultants to hire is just an extra time and expense that school board and the taxpayers don't need. It just gives retired superintendents who for the mos part have a good pensinons an other source of taxpayer income.
Janet Mandel December 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Board members must be very careful to avoid the superintendent debacle that is now playing out disastrously in Montclair and in Highland Park where NJSBA-vetted superintendents are implementing policies that run counter to the culture and spirit of their districts. WO parents value a rich and broad educational experience that benefits all students and does not take a back seat to a testing culture of one size fits all. Beware of any candidate who is tied into the Broad Foundation, Edison Schools, Teach for America networks, and any other entity pushing for policies that take money out of the classroom and funnel it to for-profit companies.
john anthony prignano December 11, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Ms. Mandel Let me guess - You are either a public school teacher, or a retired public school teacher.
Janet Mandel December 11, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Yes, Mr. Prignano, I retired after 32 years in the classroom, and my experience and expertise should count for a lot, no? Education is about unleashing the potential in all children, about inspiring them, about awakening their natural curiosity, about nurturing their creativity, their hopes and dreams. Narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, and making schools a joyless, soulless place for students and teachers is not where we want to go.
john anthony prignano December 11, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Adam What makes you think the school board doesn't have a good, perhaps an excellent idea, of what they want in a Superintendent? Dr. Donna Rando- No previous experience in education, not National Board Certified, not Highly Qualified, and since she's been here, the quality of the schools has declined considerably. Mark Kenney is the highest paid School Business Administrator in the State. He had virtually no experience when West Orange hired him, and it shows. At the time of his hiring, the school board waived the Doctoral requirement so they could appoint Jerry Tarnoff Superintendent. What's The Rule? GIVE YOUR FRIENDS MONEY. What's going on here is an exhaustive, complex, deliberate, strongly grounded in time - tested techniques, expensive, eclectic, inclusive, time - consuming.....fait accompli. The circus is back in town!
wohopeful December 11, 2013 at 05:08 PM
If "narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, and making schools a joyless, soulless place for students and teachers" is all the taxpayers can afford then that is the place we will have to go. Ms. Mandel, hope you are enjoying your generous retirement benefits.
john anthony prignano December 11, 2013 at 05:37 PM
wohopeful You're back in top form. Getting involved is one thing. Staying involved is quite another. No one who is sincere about providing children with a quality education would stay involved for very long in the public schools.
Adam Kraemer December 12, 2013 at 06:30 AM
My recolection is taht a few years ago we teh taxpayers paid a significant amount of money to consultants on the hiring process and got a superintedent that fueded with the board and did not make it thru the term of his contract. The consultants will not garentee a good outcome in the hireing but will cost us taxpayers money.
Adam Kraemer December 12, 2013 at 06:34 AM
I want a waiver from the state on the cap and the right for a shorter term contract. I want to give the supertendent a low base pay but have a big potentail bonuses structured on measurable goals being met. A leader of the schools who raises test scores, controls budgets, adresseses violence in the schools, and runs things well gets a big pay day and renewed contract. A leader that does not do these things leaves money on the table and leaves the school system in short order.
john anthony prignano December 12, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Edison Middle School celebrated Character Day in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week that promotes drug and alcohol awareness. { The social engineering and indoctrination programs are so numerous they're overlapping } What better way to teach character and drug and alcohol awareness than an afternoon costume assembly and contest. Prizes were given for original, funniest, strangest and most colorful. You want substance ? Go see the Edison Middle school production of Dr. Seussical the Musical. At Hazel Avenue, day 1 was "Wear Red Today" Day 2 was "Crazy Hat Day" Day 3 "Wear Your Wackiest Socks Day" Day 4 "Wear a Peace Sign Day" Day 5 "Wear Your Pajamas Day" Another day was "Wear a Blue Shirt Day." Substance? Did you know that there is a worldwide movement underway to make every December 3 "Giving Day"? Still not satisfied? Edison Middle School has reintroduced 3 early dismissals for parent - teacher conferences....in November. Early dismissal election day, 2 days off for the teachers' convention, an early dismissal the day before Thanksgiving, and 2 days off for Thanksgiving. A couple of sick days, a personal day or two.......WOW!! You're right Mickey Russo , the circus has never left town.
john anthony prignano December 12, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Mickey Russo You are one of the greats. The last name of of The Director of Field Services - Kershner. When I was a kid the host and ringmaster of Terry Tunes Circus was German - born Claude Kirchner. English pronunciation Kershner.
Mickey Russo December 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM
This whole thing is a farce, believe me when I tell you! They don't want your input, they just think that it is the right thing to do is to ask, but at the end of the day, the Board will hired whomever they wish. This will probably be another Jerry Tarnoff crony who will keep the skeletons packed away in the closets. The circus has never left town, in fact you insult the circus by calling the WOBOE a circus, it if more of a fiefdom then anything. I could go on and on, but the good citizens of West Orange keep voting for incompetence and keep paying high taxes for glorified secretaries and overpaid and under worked administrators!
john anthony prignano December 18, 2013 at 06:22 PM
"We come in unbiased and have this process that is tried and true." Donna Rando - No previous experience in public education, not National Board Certified,not highly qualified, CERTAINLY not someone who rose through the system on merit, and the Board pays her $200,000 a year to reduce instructional hours and waste money. Penmanship... I mean cursive training that can't possibly produce proficiency is a waste of time and money. Watching the movie Glory for 3 class periods provides the students with great entertainment, but the movie is not even close to being historically accurate. I read the High School has an Amistad component to the curriculum. The movie is not historically accurate, but I'm sure it will be shown to the students, and the screening will be followed by a classroom discussion of the movie as real history, and NOT as the entertainment it really is, and was intended to be by its producers. Mickey Russo, you are correct!
john anthony prignano December 18, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Mt Pleasant School, June 2014 fifth grade trio to Liberty Science Center, 2 visits to the Middle School, awards ceremony, { I can't imagine that the 2 or 3 day fifth grade camping trip has been eliminated or even scaled back }, last day , a carnival/picnic, and an early dismissal. Gregory School, June 2014 fifth grade Flag Day ceremony, fifth grade talent show, fifth grade clap out day{? }, moving on up awards assembly.I would think they also visit the Middle School. I have no doubt there are more non - instructional events on the June calendar. Last day, an early dismissal. Liberty Middle School April/May 2014 - 9 days off for spring break, immediately followed by 4 standardized test days. Edison Middle School, November - early dismissal, 2 days off for the teachers' convention, 3 early dismissals for parent - teacher conferences, { restored this year } an early dismissal, and 2 days off for Thanksgiving. A sick day or 2, a personal day or 2.... same thing in April and June. The School Board, teachers and administrators are absolutely trying to make "teachers teaching" an American institution that's time has come and gone.
john anthony prignano December 19, 2013 at 12:54 AM
should be fifth grade TRIP


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something