Trustee makes failed push to start superintendent search process in Monroe

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Aug 24, 2018

MONROE – For the second time in two months, a motion to start the search process to find a full-time superintendent for the Monroe Township School District failed.

The latest motion was presented by Board of Education member Michele Arminio during the tail-end of a marathon meeting on Aug. 22. Trustee Marvin Braverman proposed forming a committee during the July meeting and that he would be appointed chair, but was also defeated when opened to a full vote by board members.

“Do we have to keep putting a resolution forward to advertise for a superintendent of schools,” Arminio said before making her motion. “This has nothing to do with [acting superintendent] Mr. [Robert] Goodall, as he says he is in the process of learning this stuff.”

Arminio felt that since the board is tackling the important matter of holding another referendum in March, it should not delay in its efforts to find a new full-time superintendent.

“I think we should also be concerned about getting a superintendent in the school district,” she said. “Are we waiting for you madam president to put that forward or should we be coming to board meetings every month asking for a resolution?”

Board President Kathy Kolupanowich reiterated her July position of wanting to wait until early 2019 to begin the search process for a new superintendent and allow Goodall time in the position.

“I think I had said at the last board meeting it was a good idea to take a little break and have Mr. Goodall do what he needed to do, get involved in the dealings of the district,” Kolupanowich said.

She also added it would be best to wait until a new board is sworn-in in January to allow that body to start the search process.

“You seem to have suggested that you’re waiting and hopeful for a turnover on the board,” Arminio said.

“Could be a turnover either way, there could be no turnover,” Kolupanowich responded.

There will however, be at least one new member on the school board since trustee Dawn Quarino decided not to rerun in the November election.

“One of the biggest things to consider is at this time of year superintendents are already in place in September,” Kolupanowich said, “and you’re getting the leftover superintendents and the best time of year to do it, according to [the New Jersey] School Boards [Association] and others, is in the spring when superintendents are looking for a position.”

Arminio contended that starting the search process earlier would give a potential candidate plenty of time to inform his or her current district that at the end of the school year they were taking the job in Monroe.

“So to your point or argument about not going out now, if there’s a superintendent who is active in a school system they may still be interested in coming to Monroe and wouldn’t have to give notice until June of 2019,” Arminio said. “I think it would prudent on us to start that process right away.”

However, board Vice President Steven Riback, in siding with Kolupanowich, said that starting a search too early could hamper the board’s efforts to find an attractive candidate because his or her current district may find out that their superintendent is looking to leave.

“That’s just the way it works,” Riback said. “That along would prevent people from applying. I think we’re better off waiting to January. We’re smarter waiting than letting the cat out of the bag.”

The school board finds itself in a need for a new superintendent after it did not reach a new deal with Michael Kozak. In the interim, the board named Goodall acting superintendent– a one-year appointment that expires on June 30, 2019.

Kozak initially submitted his letter of resignation in December of 2017, but after a board vote in February agreed to enter into talks with the business administrator, Michael Kozak, for a limited time frame to reach a new deal.

Kozak had said in previous interviews that he hoped to remain the district superintendent. But, the board nor Kozak would comment on the negotiation process since it was a personnel matter.