District holds open-house forum for public to give input on superintendent search

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Olivia Moreno

The search agency hired to aid in finding a new superintendent held an open-form Wednesday night to gain input from the community in what they what in the superintendent. “We will not stop until the board feels they have the right candidate to lead the Pascack Valley Regional High School District,” President of the agency Michael Kuchar said.

Olivia Moreno, Staff Editor

Members of the public were given the opportunity to provide input on what they are looking for in a superintendent in a virtual open-house forum on Wednesday night via Zoom.

The Board of Education announced in November that they decided Strategic Education Advantage LLC would be the search agency they would work with to find the new superintendent as Dr. Eric Gundersen retired as superintendent at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Following that they decided to hire Daniel Fishbein as interim superintendent for the 2021-22 school year and continue to search for someone permanent. 

President of Strategic Education Advantage LLC Michael Kuchar and his partner Frank Aummiera hosted the event and moderated the comments from the public

“The two of us have extensive experience not only in the world of K to 12 education but also on the college level,” Aummiera said. “We both have been teaching doctoral students for many years. Our experience is vast. Our interest is great. And again, we are very excited about this search.”

Community members were asked to share what qualities they want in a new superintendent, what brought them to the school district, what the strengths of the district are, and what challenges the new superintendent will face. 

Community member Carolle Adams expressed she wants transparency from the superintendent and many said they agreed with her. She also added that she wants what is taught to be right for the particular environment of the district and for it to be consistent. 

We don’t want to look to our left or to our right, but what is good for our particular environment, our citizens, their socio-economic status, and their desires for education for their children. ”

— Community member Carolee Adams

“We seem to move from one fad to another,” Adams said. “We don’t want to look to our left or to our right, but what is good for our particular environment, our citizens, their socio-economic status, and their desires for education for their children. We don’t seem to [be consistent in how we educate] well in New Jersey from my experience, and the Pascack Valley Regional High School District has that grand opportunity to set a standard of consistency.”

Some of those that gave input praised the current administration at Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills as well as in the elementary and middle schools. They like how this administration cares about the emotional and mental health of the students as well as how they do academically.

It’s important that the next superintendent really cares about the kids. [Someone] that cares about our kids’ mental health because coming out of COVID-19 our kids are going to need support. ”

— Resident Jen Charnow

“It’s important that the next superintendent really cares about the kids, resident Jen Charnow said. “[Someone] that cares about our kids’ mental health because coming out of COVID-19 our kids are going to need support.”

PV alum and resident of the district Cheryl Berkowitz wants someone who is knowledgeable of the events of the past few years in schools such as the changing of mascots and the divisiveness that caused and how to bring the community together.

“Education, curriculum, and the social and emotional needs for our children are important not only because of COVID-19 but because of the society we live in,” Berkowitz said. “Parents need to feel heard and understood.”

The educational and mental health impact of COVID-19 on students was the challenge many said the superintendent will face as well as divisiveness within the district.

“We’ve seen a lot of unprofessional interactions between the board and the community,” resident Scott Rossig said. “There’s no way that one individual, a superintendent, can control all of that, but we do need somebody that has that as a goal. We need to get back to a point where we understand that just because we’re progressive doesn’t mean we have to be completely divided.”

Kari Solomon, a member of the public, shared that utilizing technology is important and wants a superintendent that understands that.

A key is technology, both to help educate the students and the technology of the world that they’re going to need to know to be successful. I think that’s something we’ve actually done pretty well in the past and we need someone who is definitely tech-forward”

— Resident Kari Solomon

“A key is technology, both to help educate the students and the technology of the world that they’re going to need to know to be successful,” Solomon said. “I think that’s something we’ve actually done pretty well in the past and we need someone who is definitely tech-forward.”

Kuchar said they expect to have at least 60 resumes and they will interview everyone qualified. All of the resumes with a rubric of who meets the criteria will be brought to the board members. The board will then interview six to twelve candidates and hope to have the new superintendent start July 1.

“The board is committed to getting the right person, not just filling the position,” Kuchar said. “We will not stop until the board feels they have the right candidate to lead the Pascack Valley Regional High School District.”