I need to start off by saying I'm sorry. I personally apologize to every parent and concerned citizen who asked me if the Superintendent search process that the board had approved was going to be legitimate.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
At Thursday night's board meeting, we got folders noting that outgoing Superintendent of Schools Gagliardi was offering to step aside as of March 1, 2007 - becoming assistant superintendent of schools for four months at his same salary - so that the board can hire a new superintendent as of March 1 (only 75 days from now), to "guarantee a smooth transition."
This offer would have deserved very serious consideration had it been made last summer. Arriving as it did in mid-December however, it presented a real risk of derailing a very orderly process that had been on track since the Board adopted it in June.
A responsible Board would have considered the offer very carefully before junking the reasonable, timely, open and transparent process already underway.
But not this Board.
President Farina - who admitted to knowing of the proposal for weeks - recommended that the Board accept Gagliardi's proposal immediately, without even taking a break for us to read the six page report. All four lame duck Board members - Farina, Burns, Porata, and Santana-Alicea - whose terms end in April, spoke strongly for the measure.
Farina, in his remarks went so far as to admit the real reason for the change - unless the process was cut-short, an election might come, he (and the other lame ducks) might lose, and "new Board Members" might be chosen by the public to make this crucial choice.
Not surprisingly, the Board supported this last-minute plan to hold on to control of the schools, rather than risking a referendum by the voters in April. So the excellent process we had started had to go.
Cathie Sousa, our NJSBA rep, tried desperately to maintain some legitimacy. When Farina demanded we advertise for our Superintendent over Christmas and New Years she stood her ground. "You'd only be wasting your money" she maintained. After some griping Farina relented and agreed to advertise on January 7 and 14.
The new timetable: Applications are due February 2.
The new person is scheduled to start on March 1.
Even if we conduct all our interviews and reference checks in two weeks this doesn't leave the successful applicant even two weeks to give notice to his or her current employer. By state law, educators are required to give 60 days notice to the districts they are leaving.
So who, really, are going to be eligible for the most important job in the Hoboken public schools? The unemployed, who have no employer to notify, and those already in the district.
If you are as disgusted with their tricks as I am, please get involved, stay involved and be sure to make your voice heard on April 17th.
School Board Trustee