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A Frank Discussion on Brick's Schools

Forum on new superintendent sparks discussion

Though few township residents – just eight, to be exact – came to a public forum on the selection of a new schools superintendent Wednesday night, a spirited discussion on the good, the bad and the ugly transpired.

The forum was conducted by Dr. William Librera, a former state education commissioner, and Dr. Peter Bastardo, a former schools superintendent and current professor of education. The pair are consultants with West Hudson Associates, a firm assisting the Board of Education in their search for a new leader of Brick's school district.

Criteria based on information gleaned from the public meeting will be a factor in the selection of a new superintendent, Librera said.

The forum focused on three main areas – the positives of the district, areas for improvement in the district, and the qualities a new superintendent should possess to be successful in Brick.

Librera said 38 people responded to a survey posted on the district's website on the matter, and certain themes – such as a superintendent who has experience overseeing facilities projects – came up as patterns.

At the meeting, the few residents who attended voiced concern, however, over several areas in need of improvement in the school district.

"The quality of the superintendent, at this juncture, will determine whether this town falls off the cliff or gets on track," said Karyn Cusanelli, a township resident whose children have attended district schools.

Cusanelli suggested a superintendent should have excellent communication skills to engage the community, and should bolster the opportunities for students to take more challenging classes to help prepare for college.

"There are a lot of kids who are academically talented, but you have to fight for everything for these kids," she said.

Other residents said standardizing curriculum between schools should be a priority for the district, as well as engaging both parents and the business community to help foster more support among residents for the school system.

The discussion wasn't all negative, however. Cusanelli praised the district's teachers, and fellow resident Vic Fanelli praised the current school board majority, saying they are not backed by either major political party in town and are "getting things done."

John Barton said that the Brick district has a strong history, and the next superintendent will have the opportunity to renew that concept.

"That's what this superintendent has to bring back to us," Barton said.

Librera said, in his view, Brick has suffered from a lack of continuity. After all, he said, the district has gone through four superintendents in the last 10 years.

"That's not a recipe for sustained continuity and positive growth," he said.

The district's new superintendent will have to be given a chance, said Bastardo.

"The first couple of years you're going to turn over a lot of rocks, and some people are going to be unhappy," he said. "By year four, people are going to come on board because they can see the changes."

West Hudson Associates is currently advertising the opening and will conduct initial interviews and screenings with candidates based on a set of criteria consultants develop specific to Brick.

Board members will then conduct additional interviews with candidates. West Hudson, once a candidate is favored by the board, will conduct a final background investigation and check references.

The board has the final say on the matter. Interviews may begin in early May, with a new superintendent ready to be appointed in June, Librera said.

Current superintendent Walter Hrycenko will bump down to assistant superintendent, a position in which he holds tenure, after the new schools chief takes the reigns.

Brick since 1957 April 07, 2012 at 03:14 AM
You hope the Brick schools fail? How caring and considerate for the over 10,000 students. Your insightful response, Ms. Gorman, is yet another example of the intellectual level of discourse on education.
Brick since 1957 April 07, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Don't worry- there are wonderful teachers in the Brick public schools. Save your money for college.
KMC April 07, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I put two children through Brick Schools. Met wonderful administrators, teachers and child study team members along the way. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Sophia Loyd April 12, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Lets be honest.. ok.. here goes...try this on for size. The brick school system is very quick to diagnose any child they can with a learning disability.. which hey maybe they really do? My son, diagnosed with a learning disability so RARE that only he had,.. what did they do?They (school) ran all sorts of tests, IQ and more and just said he would need one on one help in class daily and should never be forced into doing work he will learn at his own pace.. They let him do as little work as he could get away with, they tell me my son is unable to read at all (mind you, my son uses the computer, reads 200+ page books at home in his spare time, even reads the paper every Sunday), they said he will never get left back unless you want him to, they said he will be able to take these same rules and guidelines with him all the way passed college... I had a HUGE problem with this, a few years go by dealing with the evals and such, I decided to take him to a few specialist outside of the recommenced dr's from the school, my sons rare problem.. is called being bored in class. Test run independently from the schools "experts" show my son was bored with the work they were offering him and told them repetitively he already knew this ''stuff'' and was ''bored.'' Long story made even longer, he's now in private school.
Lil'DragonMom April 23, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Maybe the Berkley super with the expiring contract will come to Brick and the current Brick super will change his mind as staying on as asst and apply to Berkley........just a thought.

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