SECAUCUS – Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Randina handed in her resignation at the Secaucus school board meeting Thursday night. She gave no official speech but said that she planned to take time off to finish her dissertation. The decision comes at the same time that the school board would have made a decision on whether or not to renew her contract, which was up in June. Randina, who was appointed in 2008, plans to serve out the final year left on her contract.
“I put my own study on hold and it is just very difficult when you are a superintendent to take away from your time in the school district to go on and finish your studies,” said Randina. Her dissertation through Florida International University is on the role of female superintendents and how they lead differently.
“Contractually, something had to be done this month,” said Jack McStowe, board president. “I am not surprised that someone doesn’t want to take an $80,000 cut in pay.”
Randina earns $227,000 but would see a significant reduction because Gov. Christopher Christie has put a cap on superintendent salaries based on school district size. The limit is $150,000 for Secaucus.
McStowe estimates the search for a new superintendent will begin in January 2013. He noted that the next elected board actually selects the superintendent.
“It is not going to be just a board decision,” said McStowe. “It is going to be a community-based decision.”
Randina has faced many challenges since she was appointed in 2008, primarily in the form of opposition by the local teachers’ union that has remained critical of her hiring decisions, communication style, and overall management of the district. The Secaucus Education Association took a vote of ‘no confidence’ in her leadership skills in 2010 and 2012 that was led by former union president and current board trustee Robert “Bob” Anderson. Anderson has publicly stated that he would not renew her contract, which was up this month.
He was elected to the board on a joint ticket with newcomer Kelli D’Addetta and incumbent Gary Riebesell.
Trustees Dora Marra and MaryAnn Weiner spoke in support of the superintendent and expressed sadness at her decision.
“She is an educator and not a politician,” said Trustee Dora Marra. “Unfortunately in 2012 you have to be a politician.” She was not surprised that Randina resigned.
“As the old saying goes, when you get run out of town, by the political powers that be, make it look like you’re leading the parade,” said former trustee Thomas Troyer in a statement. “With our superintendent’s resignation, the parade has begun.”
In response to whether or not her decision was based on the challenges she has faced from the local teachers’ union, Randina said that the sentiments that were expressed were based on resistance to change.
While she said she plans to spend time on her dissertation she is not ruling out any other opportunities.
“It is going to be a year of my own self-examination to figure out what the next step is going to be,” said Randina. – Adriana Rambay Fernandez