Tuesday, July 31, 2007

School Board Terminates Another Supervisor

Another key person in the administration of former Schools Superintendent Paula Howard has been found to be unqualified and was terminated by the school board Tuesday.

In a special meeting at Clinton School, the board voted to terminate Soundaram Ramaswami as supervisor of Evaluation, Assessment and Research.

When asked the importance of the title after the meeting, Interim Schools Superintendent Peter Carter said, “That position deals with all of the statewide testing, analysis of statewide testing, the effectiveness of our instruction and recommendations for student improvement.”

Carter called the supervisor’s work “an integral part of education in New Jersey and in the United States.”

“Unless we assess what we do, we don’t know what we’re doing,” Carter said.

Asked how important it is that the post be filled, Carter said, “It is imperative and we will deal with it.”

Previously this month, the board accepted the resignation of Lillie Sipp as director of Curriculum and Instruction because she was not properly certified for the job.

The vacancies come as the district also has an interim board secretary/ business administrator and is searching for a permanent superintendent.

The superintendent search was also discussed Tuesday, but not all board members understood board president Patricia Barksdale’s call for each board member to reach out to districts that had previously used search consultants. Barksdale asked each member Tuesday to submit by Wednesday any questions they would ask of consultants. She also asked board members to call districts that had used the search firms to get feedback on how well the consultants performed.

Several search consultants are scheduled to make presentations to the board on Aug. 7, Barksdale said, framing the calls to districts as “due diligence.” But several board members said consultants might back out or be deemed unsuitable Aug 7, suggesting the inquiries would be better made after the presentations.

Barksdale said the goal was to have a uniform questionnaire for the search process. But board member Lisa Logan-Leach said, “This whole thing just seems kinda strange.”

Logan-Leach said the process had been stalled for two months and suggested that Barksdale’s proposal was “kinda helter-skelter.”

Barksdale stuck to her guns, saying, “We have to take different steps and different actions.”

Next the board moved on to the question of how new business might be raised. Barksdale said perhaps as many as three new items might be added at work and study sessions, with the board having two passes at the issues and the public having one pass of commentary.

The goal appeared to be not to let meetings get bogged down in drawn-out discussions, but most board members did not see a need for change in current procedures until a formal policy was written.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m., having only started at 8 p.m., an hour after the posted time. The 50 or more people who waited an hour for the public portion to begin went home without any chance to comment on the topics.

--Bernice Paglia


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