School Board President Shelly Lombard said Thursday that Montclair plans to hire an interim superintendent to replace Dr. Frank Alvarez, who is stepping down the end of June to take a job as superintendent in the Rye City School District.
"It will be virtually impossible to hire someone by July 1 ... that's only 90 days," she said. "Most candidates must give a 60-day notice to their current district.
"So that would leave us only 30 days to (1) do focus groups with residents (to hear what they want in a superintendent); (2) then conduct a nationwide search; and (3) then interview candidates (possibly two rounds)," Lombard said. "It is more important to get the right person than it is to get someone fast."
She said the goal is to hire an interim superintendent to cover the summer and then to hire someone permanent by September 1, 2012.
"We would prefer to hire an interim who is familiar with the district and who is not a candidate for the position," Lombard said. "Although I was not on the board when we hired Frank, my understanding is that he started November 1."
Alvarez will be replacing long-time district superintendent Edward Shine in the Rye City School District.
Shine, superintendent in Rye for 16 years, announced in July 2011 that he would retire at the end of the current school year in June 2012.
In February, Alvarez said he'd be stepping down as superintendent of the Montclair school district after nine years in the job.
Only a few years ago, the Montclair Board of Education announced that it had approved a new five-year contract for Alvarez that extended from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2014.
That contract called for Alvarez to remain at a salary of $216,083 for two years.
Previously, Alvarez was superintendent of River Vale Schools and North Caldwell schools in New Jersey.
Alvarez is one of many New Jersey superintendents that have retired or are leaving the state, mostly as a result of salary caps imposed by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.
The caps, imposed through regulation and without legislative approval, establish salaries for top school officials depending on the size of the district. The top scale for those in districts with between 5,000-10,000 students—such as Montclair—is $175,000, the governor’s salary, and the number goes down to as low as $135,000 for the smallest districts.