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Livingston Holds Open Community Forum to Search for New Superintendent

By JASON COHEN

January 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM

LIVINGSTON, NJ - With Superintendent Brad Draeger’s impending departure at the end of the school year, the search for his replacement is under way. On Thursday, the district held their second Open Community Forum for a new superintendent.

The search is being headed by HYA consulting firm, and consultant Jamie Savedoff is leading the group. Residents Anne Rispoli and DeeDee Pulver and former Livingston Board of Education member Bonnie Granatir attended the meeting. Savedoff also will be talking with teachers, principals and other organizations, and a summary of his findings will be given to the board at its meeting Monday night.

The women discussed positive things about Livingston, challenges the new superintendent will face and attributes they would like the person to have. They agreed that because of the high school's rigorous course load, the students are usually well-prepared for college.

Pulver said Draeger’s replacement will need to recognize and understand the cultural and socio-economic diversity in the community.

“It’s nice to have a superintendent who’s as interested in the community as the schools,” Pulver said.

The budget has passed every year since 1986, so the superintendent will have to maintain that success, Granatir said. She emphasized that it’s also crucial for Draeger’s replacement to continue the strategic plan and lead Livingston in a positive direction.

Professional development for teachers needs to be improved as well, Rispoli said. The district simply does not provide enough training for the staff and hopefully the new superintendent will change this, she said.

Pulver brought up bringing special needs students back into the district and questioned whether it's the right thing to do. The new superintendent needs to do what’s best for the kids and understand the needs of each student, she said.

With the new facilities referendum up for a vote in the near future, Draeger’s replacement could be overseeing a building project or dealing with overcrowded schools, both of which are a lot to handle, Granatir said. She added that the new person will need to immerse themselves in the community, develop relationships with people, be a good communicator, be transparent and accessible.

“I don’t want to hear what people have to say; I want to hear what they did,” she said. “While you do really set the vision for the community, you have to bring everybody along with you and take input along the way.”