Monday, September 25, 2017

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Knops’ contract extended through November as school board continues superintendent search

By LOUISE RITTBERG

School board trustees appointed an assistant principal at Secaucus High School to replace Frank Costello, who retired earlier this year. They also renewed the contracts of interim Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Knops and Board Administrator/Secretary Grace Yeo for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The trustees also named a number of new staff hires at their meeting held in Huber Street School June 15.

Without discussion, Jeffrey D. Case, who hails from Warren Hills Regional School District, was appointed assistant principal, effective July 1, at an annual salary of $105,000.

While Knops’ contract was renewed for the 2017/18 school year that begins July 1, he will only serve through November 29. His salary listed in the agenda was $157,500. After the meeting, Board President Jack McStowe said that the November date is the latest Knops can serve under the terms of service as an interim superintendent. The school board has been interviewing candidates to serve as the permanent superintendent, but has not reached a decision on the hiring. McStowe said the interviewing process is continuing. Another special meeting was held Monday evening in regard to the superintendent search.

In an unusual sequence of events, prior to the trustees voting on the appointments listed in the agenda, Knops introduced the new teachers being hired and each approached the podium to personally acknowledge how they looked forward to working in the district.

Dr. Daniela Riser, who is presently the Supervisor of Science for the middle and high schools, was named Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Riser noted it’s her seventeenth year in the district and she hopes to spend her time in Secaucus until she retires.

New hires named were Brian Carson, high school chemistry; Samantha Boczon, middle school guidance; Julia Moore, middle school English; Marissa Capobianco and Antonia L. Ricciardi, STEM; Sammantha Griffin and Olivia A. Wilson, speech language specialists; Justin T. Estruch, computer technician, and part-time and per diem custodians Cosimo Landolfo and Michael P. Sanzari were named to full-time positions.

Without discussion, all non-certificated staff, central office staff, per-diem summer custodians, bus drivers and aides were also appointed, along with faculty members serving in positions to oversee after-school clubs and activities were approved as part of the agenda. Coaches for the various inter-scholastic sports were approved as were staff to serve as class advisors and oversee student detentions, including Saturday detentions.

Knops reported that the school district underwent District Performance Evaluation by the State Department of Education that involved two days of visits during which the schools, teachers, lesson plans, etc., were evaluated. He proudly noted the district was named a High Performance District and that it will retain that distinction for three years.

Yeo reported on the success of the Patriots Athletic Club and acknowledged president Lorraine Dunning, treasurer Allyson Iannuale, Lyn Marie Gohde, Elaine Perez and Valerie Peschetti for their efforts in doing the hard work in getting the club going. “With their fundraising efforts and a $10,000 donation from the Stephen Strobert Foundation, they were able to award six $500 scholarships at the recent athletic awards dinner,” she explained.

The Patriots Athletic Club was formed to replace the Patriot Booster Club after it was discovered the Booster Club’s treasurer stole approximately $20,000 from its treasury. As was reported in the press awhile back, that case is awaiting adjudication this summer.

Middle School Principal Robert Valente, Clarendon School Principal Steve Viggiani, Huber Street School Principal Linda Wilhelm and High School Principal Dr. Robert Berckes all gave reports on their schools and acknowledged the successes of their students. Berckes recognized the efforts of Athletic Director Charlie Voorhees with regard to the success of the athletic awards dinner.

Board members also commented at the meeting’s conclusion. Louis Giele welcomed the newly hired staff and administrators and congratulated all present staff for their efforts. Board vice president Ruby Pantoliano acknowledged the newly created Patriots Athletic Club and thanked her fellow board members for the time and effort they put in to their positions. Sharon Dellafave also thanked her colleagues on the board, noting they’re “like family.” Joan Cali also thanked those who did all the work and preparation for the many award recognitions that took place that evening. Norma Hanley and Lance Bartletta congratulated the new appointees and wished them well in their new posts. Ending the meeting, McStowe thanked all the district’s staff and welcomed the new appointees.

The next regular monthly meeting of the school board is Thursday, July 20, 7 p.m., at Huber Street School.

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