LTE: Rely on outgoing superintendent expertise, name Treece as successor, says former BOE president

To the Editor:

It was my pleasure to attend Monday’s Board of Education meeting and present the school district EcoWarriors with their award certificates. 

At the meeting, I learned that a survey seeking superintendent search input was sent to people in-district and to nursery schools. Media outlets Hopewell Valley News and MercerMe reported the survey on the day it closed. Since I missed the window, I reached out to a search committee member who recommended that I offer public comment rather than discussing privately. Since I am unavailable to attend next Monday’s meeting, I am publicly commenting now.

President Linthorst said, “Over the course of the next few weeks, we will determine our needs with regards to consultants and interims.” Since no one on the Board of Education has first-hand experience with interims in our district, I will offer mine. 

An interim may have been appropriate when the previous board brought one in 13 or 14 years ago. Their superintendent was not renewed so there was no pressing need to transition a successor. Further, there were no internal candidates under serious consideration. Therefore, an interim was brought in as a placeholder while the board engaged in an extended search. The interim was very highly paid and made few decisions believing, rightly so, that the next superintendent should chart a new course for the district. Finally, any institutional knowledge that the interim may have gleaned, went out the door with him when he left.

I can say unequivocally that this Board of Ed is in a far different situation than the one that hired Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith and I started at the same time and I was honored to sign both of his renewals with our district. He will leave the district in a better position then he inherited, and it would behoove the Board and the community if he could offer a successor the benefit of his experience. Further, there is an internal candidate that is a well-respected contender. 

While the Board can most certainly still engage in further due diligence, it may make sense to appoint Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rosetta Treece, as an Acting Superintendent, effective on Dr. Smith’s exit, to ensure there is a direction and means to provide legacy information and a succession plan to a capable individual who can learn from our respected superintendent while there is reasonable overlap time.

Waiting until “over the course of the next few weeks,” may delay action until dangerously close to the end of the school year, resulting in a lost opportunity for useful knowledge transfer. 

I respectfully submit my public comment.

Lisa Wolff,

Hopewell Township

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