Paul Saxton, the new interim Superintendent for the Edison School District, recently spoke with TAPinto Edison regarding his plans for his time as Superintendent.

“I’m excited and honored to serve Edison and sustain the level of excellence Edison has achieved” said Mr. Saxton.  He discussed four areas that he would like to see addressed: school overcrowding, budget reforms, increasing communication with the community, and diversity in the district.

Mr. Saxton enters this position with an abundance of prior experience in administering school systems.  Mr. Saxton has served as an Interim Superintendent in four districts since 2009, including the Henry P. Becton Regional High School District, the Fort Lee School District, the Oradell School District, and most recently the Hopatcong Borough School District. He previously served as the Superintendent of Schools for the Demarest Public School District between 1980 and 1997 and the the Ramapo-Indian Hills Regional High School District between 1997 and 2008.  Mr. Saxton has worked as a principal and elementary school teacher.

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To address the issue of overcrowding in school systems, Mr. Saxton explained that the first step will be to analyze the data, and then see  if an updated facility plan is needed, as well as exploring expansion options. Earlier this year, Edison Board of Education President Jerry Shi convened an Overcrowding Taskforce to examine the issue, which Mr. Shi has described as the District’s most pressing problem. The Taskforce is co-chaired by Edison Board of Education Member Ralph Errico and Edison Council President Ajay Patil.  Additionally, the Board has created a dedicated fund to finance projects to alleviate overcrowding.

On the topic of the budget, Mr. Saxton said, “although it is premature to say, I’m sure as I meet people and we get into budget development, there will be ways to maximize efficiency from the budget”. In May, the Board approved a $250.6 million budget on  a 7-2 vote. At the time, Mr. Shi remarked “we have systemic issues that are leading to these increases and unless we solve these systemic problems, we will continue to face rising costs.” The Board has since appointed a firm to conduct a performance audit of the district.

Mr. Saxton’s also plans to increase his office’s interactions with the community. Mr. Saxton said, “I plan to do a lot of listening. It is better to first get insights from the community, as they have valuable information.” Regarding communication with the community, Saxton aims to achieve this primarily through the Parent- Teacher Organizations. He feels having a president’s council consisting of the PTO presidents is also a good step to take.  He also plans on visiting schools quite often to get a sense of where the Edison School District stands.

When speaking of the community, Mr. Saxton praised the diversity within the District and cited it as a strength.  Mr. Saxton believes it is important that we understand that “we have an eclectic group, but we have to share goals and objectives as one group, not separate groups”.