School Board Hires Interim Superintendent; Board Also Seeks Food Service Provider

A permanent superintendent could be hired by September


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.

joe fischer April 10, 2012 at 01:18 PM
The open campus policy is very important to student’s social development. This time off campus give students freedoms, time for expression and a sense of comradely. I work in a district that has a closed campus policy and the students are stifled and depressed.
profwilliams April 10, 2012 at 01:21 PM
A 10K consultant for food? And he recommends the HS stays on LOCKDOWN so they buy lunch from the "provider"? Gimme a break. How much kickback does the consultant get for an increase in participation? But if a kid wants to hang with her friends, walk to Watchung get a bagel and a soda-- SO WHAT??? And don't go on with that "Childhood Obesity" stuff, kids are fat cause they don't play- and locking them up in school will not alleviate this. (Really, drive down any street and count how many kids you see playing outside...) Letting them walk to the Quik Check and eat whatever they want. If the lunch isn't good enough to keep them at school, make less lunch.
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I'm amazed we have to spend 10K to have help in putting together an RFP for food service. We're not designing the space shuttle here.
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 01:48 PM
This will sound crazy coming from me, but I think the campus should be closed precisely so that the kids all have to eat together. We're mandated to provide subsidized meals for kids on the free lunch program. If the paying kids all go off campus, the food quality has to take a nose dive so we don't "lose $100,000" on the food service. What essentially remains will be a dining room with only the poorer kids eating crappy food. I wonder why this supposed "special Montclair" that's ethnically and economically diverse spends so much time and effort trying not to mix and mingle.
Montclair's Own April 10, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I wonder how the teacher's union will be blamed for the food service. And the consultant...and the other consultant to hire a superintendent.
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Martyr complex much?
Bronwyn April 10, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Good point, ROC.
Kyle Martinowich April 10, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Food Service is complicated ROC. The margins are very tight. Contracts can be complicated. There are so many variables in the equation of delivering quality nutritional food that appeals to young students, tastes good and delivered in a safe manner. Plus LIABILITY...... The amount of things that can go wrong in a kitchen and with perishable food would surprise most. To reduce the overall liability Food Service vendors tended to use low moisture products, canned or frozen products, as moisture, and time/temperature are key ingredients in bacteria growth. Now, "client's" want more fresh food available and used in prepared foods. That drives labor and food cost up. With schools offering on the range of $2/per meal/student it is a challenge and complicated. I am a believer in a separate type of delivery of Food Service for our schools. If we are going to get our children to like and appreciate good wholesome foods we need to change the style of cafeterias. The look should be more like walking through the Grand Central Market. Individual Kiosks or Stations where food can be visualized, and set up as a grab and go system. We should contract/RFP for local companies who have "name recognition" that would want to run a Kiosks/Stations. Understandably there would be guidelines and standards set fourth by the town, but more competition is needed.
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Isn't someone at the schools currently charged with supervising the complexity of food service now?
Kyle Martinowich April 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I was talking about the Food Service contracts, not the waste of 10K, on consulting what I believe should be something that our BOE, or its staff should be able to handle. We are in completed agreement about that!
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Ms. Emling, Why are comments in the "War Of Words Erupts Over Classroom Aides…" thread being moderated for content?
Shelley Emling (Editor) April 10, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Sorry.. bug in system is being fixed right now.. comments should be appearing any minute..
Kevin April 10, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Is the food service problem a result of the protests last year? http://montclair.patch.com/articles/parent-petition-demands-changes-to-school-lunches
Right of Center April 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
it's not fixed now.
profwilliams April 10, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Yes. It does. But forcing kids to stay on campus to foster, or bolster diversity or to get our money's worth is not the answer. To this, plenty of kids on subsidized meals also leave campus. The answer is providing the appropriate number of meals. Figuring that out is not something new. Though judging by the constant need to hire consultants, it may be harder than building the space shuttle. Likewise, even if on a subsidized lunch program, we cannot force kids to eat. If they don't want it, they don't want it. The issue is it's there for them. And, yes. We pay. Just like the half empty buses driving around town in the morning.
chris April 10, 2012 at 08:59 PM
This is unbelievable! So, just because EVERYONE can't afford to buy lunch off campus, punish the ones who can!! Kids definitely should be allowed to go off campus to buy lunch. How ridiculous! I for one tried the lunch with my little kids in kindergarten this year and was appalled. They were served nachos, chocolate milk and WHOLE pieces of fruit -- kids that age need their fruit cut up not to mention better nutritional options than nachos. No wonder no one is buying it.
Joan Young April 13, 2012 at 09:45 PM
You can offer nutritional options, however the kids will always go to "fast food" type options. That's why they go to the lunch trucks,etc. It will always be an ongoing battle. Remove the lunch trucks! Do parents really want their children eating from a "lunch truck" ? How healthy is that.


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