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Montclair BOE Appoints New Superintendent

After months of searching with 250 candidates applying for the position, the board approved a contract for a new superintendent starting Nov. 1.

Montclair Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution appointing Dr. Penny MacCormack as superintendent of schools on Monday's meeting. The contract approved will start Nov. 1 of this year through June 30, 2014.

"I am honored to be the new superintendent of the Montclair school system," MacCormack said. "I'm looking forward to working with this board and this community to make sure we build a system that meets the need of each and every child that we serve so they can achieve the highest potential available to them."

In MacCormack's current role as the assistant commissioner and chief academic officer for the New Jersey Department of Education she's been responsible for carrying out the new Common Core State Standard and helping schools meet these standards.

"I'm excited to be here at the beginning of this growth in the educational process," board member, Norman Rosenblum, said.

Taking on her new role, MacCormack said she intends to listen to the community, teachers, the board and organizations to find out what is really good and where there's opportunity to improve. 

"I really do believe in what she says in her personal philosophy that students come first," board member, Leslie Larson, said welcoming MacCormack to Montclair.

According to The Montclair Times, MacCormack will earn $177,500 a year.

MacCormack comes to the district with over 20 years of experience in public education as a classroom teacher, dean of students, high school and middle school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, assistant superintendent for secondary school and chief academic officer.

"One of the most important decisions that any board will ever make is the hiring of a superintendent," School Board President Robin Kulwin said. 

MacCormack will replace , who announced in February that he'd be retiring after nine years in the position. Later, Alvarez announced he was taking the position of superintendent of the Rye City School District in New York.

The extensive search for a new superintendent, which started in March, consisted of 250 candidates from 42 states and one foreign country. , Ray and Associates, Inc., to help find and hire a new superintendent at a cost of $16,500. Only 11 of these candidates were selected for personal interviews. 

MacCormack earned a doctoral degree in education leadership from the University of Hardford, an MA from Albertus Magnus COllege in New Have and a BS from the University of Connecticut.

ira shor August 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Merit pay for teachers has failed many times, most recent in Chicago, NYC, and Nashville. Best source on this is the eminent historian Diane Ravitch, but the failure of meirt pay to raise student test scores is a matter of record. Merit pay fails b/c teaching is a collaborative, professional, labor-intensive, human service whose rewards lie in autonomy, creativity, close mentoring of students, and close collaboration with colleagues and parents, things which no high-stakes standardized test can evaluate, despite the great push for testing by the billionaire foundations of Broad, Gates, Walton, etc. Where teachers are respected, given professional autonomy, extended workshop development, and resources needed, they bring out the best in their students. Where students are impoverished(the US has the highest child pov rate in industrial world--25%), the task for teachers is immensely harder.
Clark son August 14, 2012 at 06:41 PM
This sums it up perfectly! "Merit pay fails b/c teaching is a collaborative, professional, labor-intensive, human service whose rewards lie in autonomy, creativity, close mentoring of students, and close collaboration with colleagues and parents, things which no high-stakes standardized test can evaluate" -Ira Shor
MH parent volunteer August 14, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Everyone badgers teachers re: merit pay...none more so than the Broad Academy Supers...look at their track record in NYC, Chi, Newark, etc. Put that aside for a moment, why are there three former admins currently working and drawing a paycheck at Mr Hebron? Mrs. Scales is the interim Principal and they have brought back retired MHS VP Mr. Lebida for scheduling purposes and now I was just informed by a MH teacher that Dr. Jennings is back at MH doing scheduling as well? What gives? Is all this necessary? If Jennings and Lebida are scheduling what is Mrs Scales doing? Patch can you confirm?
Crafty Spiker August 14, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Why? Easy - a history of poor evaluation processes applied badly or wrongly.
Montclair's Own August 14, 2012 at 07:28 PM
The BOE seemingly got what they wanted in a new Super with Broad Academy credentials: someone who will not collaborate with teachers, but someone who will create further anti-teacher sentiment in an already divided town. Look out Montclair schools...maybe that Quest Charter may go through after all.
thewayitis August 14, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Ira Shor, thanks for the thoughtful answer about merit pay.
tryintosurvive August 14, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I think I now understand. The answer is to pay teachers at the same salary as physicians and not evaluate them at all because of the problems stated above. Tenure is fine the way it is because any teachers that are not suited leave the profession on their own. We should also have twice as many teachers as we do now and at least one aide in each classroom so that class sizes can be greatly reduced and so that more focused attention can be paid to each student. Benefits should not be curtailed in any way and should probably be increased.
Christopher St uptown August 14, 2012 at 10:41 PM
.....aaaaaaaaaand there you have it! A new record for the shortest honeymoon period for a new Superintendent. 12 hours! Let's recap for those of you away from your desk for a day. Monday evening new Super is announced 7:30 Monday at 7:45 the NAACP demands more jobs for black folk Monday at 7:55 a town councilwoman demands a staff member be fired Tuesday at 9:00 the BRoad Academy link is revealed Tuesday after 9, the townspeople revolt at the thought of privatization of public schools, charters, vouchers, for profit, etc.
Adam August 15, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Good luck to the new superintendent and thanks to those that were involved with the interviewing and hiring process! I wish her well and a shot of immunity to the nay sayers in town, because there are more of those who generally post! We have a new Superintendent and new town council that I wish the best in improving our town for the students and the residents!
mounties August 15, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Let’s be real, the NAACP should put more efforts in stopping the violence and repairing the broken family dynamics in the African American community. The Montclair NAACP seems to be more into deconstructing the community by attacking and blaming and not educating and improving.
mounties August 15, 2012 at 02:28 AM
The BOE has been throwing around money like water for years.
Montclair Public August 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Now that the board has bestowed a $177,000 deal on its new superintendent, will it empower its anti-union and paid-by-the-hour negotiator to make a fair-minded offer to its teachers and classroom aides? Or is fair-mindedness only something the board recognizes when it is moving into Central Office or demoting its failed administrators?
Clark son August 15, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Excellent point MTC Public.
tryintosurvive August 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM
"....to make a fair-minded offer to its teachers and classroom aides" I guess this means that there is not yet a new contract in place with the MEA. That is not something that most townspeople have heard anything about.
Clark son August 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Nope, the faculty and staff of MTC schools are entering this school year without a contract in place. (which is not uncommon, by the way). I believe that negotiations have not been initiated yet. The BOE has hired a very costly arbiter to negotiate the contract on their behalf this time rather than doing it in-house. Not sure why exactly.
Stuart Weissman August 15, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Seeing how the BOE essentially gave Ms. Morra a raise in exchange for her fraudulent behavior, the money spent on an arbiter is certainly something I could get behind.
tryintosurvive August 15, 2012 at 07:36 PM
It seems to be prudent given the dollars at stake over the life of the contract. The arbiter may save the town a significant amount of money.
Dude August 15, 2012 at 08:59 PM
^ THAT should be a huge issue....controversial is not the word...Cerf was a Broady too...they are nuts....
Dude August 15, 2012 at 08:59 PM
there's more than that, too.... keep looking....
Dude August 15, 2012 at 09:02 PM
enough if this he-said, she-said faux "balance" Broad = evil. period. there is a rigth and a wrong way to fix schools and Broad is on the wrong side. period.
realitycheck August 15, 2012 at 09:06 PM
glad to see the Broad issue is getting traction here.... i wonder what the union will have to say about it....
MontclairPTAMom August 16, 2012 at 03:39 AM
There are 3 people now doing scheduling at Mt Hebron- why? Because it takes all three of them to do what Ms. Morra was doing on top of her other duties
MontclairPTAMom August 16, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Is this a lot less than what Dr. Alvarez was being paid?
realitycheck August 16, 2012 at 01:12 PM
hire a Broad fellow, and that's what you get - i'm glad it happened that quickly
A. Gideon August 16, 2012 at 06:14 PM
"The autonomy that MTC schools have historically had, where trust was placed in the hands of highly skilled and caring educators, may now be at great risk due to the corporate, top-down mindset that comes with this breed of leadership." I've been told in the past by Principals that certain things were not permitted or required by mandates from CO. In some cases, the Principals in question were able to "work around" these issues; other cases not. The point being: there's already been plenty of "top down". Whether this is a generally good or bad thing, though, I couldn't say. Certainly, we want to be sure that the schools are sufficiently in sync, for example, that all students transitioning from one school to another are properly prepared for the new school's coursework. More, several other "symptoms" described in the fear-article cited above are already found in Montclair, and - at least in one case that I know - to great praise: "Writers' Workshop". Finally, considering the antipathy that the BOE has had to the idea of a charter HS in town, I'm a little puzzled at the implication that it would be hiring a pro-charter flunky. It just doesn't seem to make sense. ...Andrew
A. Gideon August 16, 2012 at 06:20 PM
"The BOE has been throwing around money like water for years." Impressive. Not long ago, people were complaining that the BOE was saving money. Now people are complaining that they are spending money. There's no winning for them, is there? I don't particularly like the "double dipping" that goes on in public employment, but I don't see a problem using retired workers to temporarily fill positions. They're clearly experienced. Presumably, if they're being hired again, they've worked well in the past. I'd much rather a retired ex-holder of a position as a temporary solution than someone untried and inexperienced. ...Andrew
A. Gideon August 16, 2012 at 06:23 PM
"The BOE has hired a very costly arbiter to negotiate the contract on their behalf this time rather than doing it in-house. Not sure why exactly." It might have to do with the full-time negotiators used by the MEA. I wouldn't do surgery myself, and I'd take a lawyer with me to court. ...Andrew
Crafty Spiker August 16, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Sorry about this - but - I think this points out that the Central Office staff may lack certain qualifications that they should have. I'll pay an expert IF you prune out the dead wood that makes an outside expert necessary.
A. Gideon August 16, 2012 at 07:17 PM
"I think this points out that the Central Office staff may lack certain qualifications that they should have." You believe that they should have a full-time negotiator on staff? How could that not be a waste given the [in]frequency of the need for this? ...Andrew
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