Randina, who previously served as the Acting Schools Superintendent for Wayne Public Schools in Passaic County, officially took over as Secaucus Schools Superintendent on September 1.
The longtime educator comes to Secaucus at a time when the school district is facing numerous challenges, including a growing student body, more stringent academic standards, and shrinking economic resources.
Randina said she believes she is prepared to meet these challenges and is confident she can take the Secaucus School District to the next level.
Wants to work collaboratively
Randina was not available last week for comment. But in an earlier interview she said she will take a collaborative approach to running the schools, and she expects both teachers and parents to be full partners in educating students in Secaucus.
"I'm very interested in [teachers'] opinions about the business of education in the district," she said. "Hopefully as a group of teachers and administrators we can come together and identify some goals that we can work toward together."
Parents, she added, can also expect to be major contributors to the future success of the district.
"They send us their most precious beings - their children - and as administrators we need to listen to them when there are concerns," Randina noted. "We also need to work closely with them so they can be better prepared to work with their children in their schooling." Randina continued, saying, "I'm coming there specifically to work with the parents and to work with the administrators and teachers so that students are well-acclimated and happy and able to learn. This will help them achieve their individual educational goals."
Randina said the Secaucus School District had several elements that initially attracted her.
"I felt that the student population was doing very nice work," Randina said. "The staff seemed to be highly engaged and committed. And Secaucus has a very supportive parent population. So, all of those are great components to work with the school community and to do what the Board of Education has asked me to do, which is to bring it to its next level."
When asked to detail what the "next level" might entail, Randina praised the school district's two academies in the high school, namely, the Media Arts Academy and the Math & Science Academy. She said she plans to create more "small learning environments" in the school system in the future.
"I think the academies are an excellent approach to allow students to envision the possibilities for future careers," Randina commented. "So I would want to work with the high school community to continue to move that initiative forward."
Randina envisions creating additional academies, which would focus on other careers and academic subjects.
'Love the work I do'
Randina was selected as Scerbo's replacement after a six-month search facilitated by the Trenton-based New Jersey School Boards Association.
She began her career in the public school system in New York City, where she taught math, Spanish, and English as a second language.
Eventually she moved into an administrative position in that school system and worked in a number of capacities between 1986 and 1996 before leaving to join the public education system in Wayne as director of elementary education.
She became the assistant schools superintendent of the Wayne Public Schools in 2004, and held that position until she became the acting superintendent last summer.
According to published reports in the Herald News, Randina initially applied to be the permanent superintendent in Wayne. However, she reportedly withdrew her application.
At the time she withdrew her name from consideration, Randina explained the move to the News, saying, "I like curriculum, I love the work I do."
The education district in Wayne has 14 schools, 9,000 students, and a budget of $130 million, according to the local newspaper there.
The Secaucus School System is smaller in comparison, with a student population of only 2,000 and an annual budget of $34.2 million.
Randina beat out 26 other applicants for the job, according to School Administrator Ed Walkiewicz, and received unanimous support from the nine-member school board.
Randina's annual salary will be between $190,000 and $195,000, plus benefits.
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