The Board of Education announced Monday night that Barbara Strobert, a long-time educator and school administrator, will take over as schools superintendent on an interim basis until someone can be found to permanently replace Dr. Frank Alvarez.
The school board also approved the hiring of a consultant to prepare a request for proposal for someone to take over the food service operation in the school district.
Earlier this year, Alvarez announced he was stepping down at the end of June in order to take a job as superintendent in the Rye City School District.
School Board President Shelly Lombard has said that it would be virtually impossible to hire someone by July 1 since most candidates must give a 60-day notice to their current districts.
She said it's more important to get the right person than it is to get someone fast.
Lombard said the goal is to hire someone on a permanent basis by September 1, 2012.
"[Strobert] will be the interim. She will start July 1. Her tentative end date is September 1 because that is our target date for hiring a superintendent," she said. "However she is available if our time table slips by a few weeks."
Strobert is an assistant professor at Seton Hall University and Director of the Traditional Masters and Doctor of Education programs who served as Watchung's principal in 1987. She left the district in 1990 to take the position of schools superintendent in Essex Fells.
To get feedback from the public as to what they are looking for in a new superintendent, the district is holding two sessions to gather comments. One is scheduled at the Mount Hebron Middle School auditorium and the Hillside Elementary School auditorium on Tuesday, April 10, and the other is scheduled at the Montclair High School auditorium and the Nishuane Elementary School auditorium on Wednesday, April 11. All four sessions start at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is invited.
Meanwhile, the school board on Monday night also approved an almost $10,000 contract with a consulting firm to help put together a request for proposal for someone to take over the district's food service operation.
Tanya Coke, who serves on the board's food service committee, said that the food service this year has improved in nutritional quality—but noted that student participation in the lunch program had not gone up markedly.
Dana Sullivan, the district's business administrator, said that if students keep refusing to purchase the school lunches prepared by Chartwells, the district's new food service provider this year, the board could be faced with annual losses of up to $100,000.
Coke said that a consultant had suggested that the district end its open-campus policy at Montclair High School that allows students to leave campus for lunch in order to encourage more students to purchase lunches from Chartwells.
But Coke said that the district wasn't yet prepared to take such a drastic step.