BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The most recent meeting of the Bridgewater-Raritan board of education began with a farewell.

The board’s June 26 meeting marked the final public meeting for superintendent Russell Lazovick, who is leaving the Bridgewater-Raritan school district after June 30 to become principal at Ridge High School.

“I wanted to say thank you for the past four years,” said Lazovick, who said he felt that his tenure here had seemed longer. “It was truly an enriching and rewarding time.”

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Lazovick originally joined the Bridgewater-Raritan district in 2016, after serving as the superintendent in Nutley Township. Prior to Nutley, he was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District for two years.

He also taught in both the New Brunswick and Las Vegas school districts prior to entering administration.

A native of Wayne, Lazovick holds two degrees from Boston University, a bachelor's in international relations and a master's in education/English. During his time in Bridgewater-Raritan, he obtained his doctorate in educational leadership from Rowan University.

Lazovick said that, during his time in Bridgewater-Raritan, he has worked with the school board to keep the district’s focus on its students. He said a great deal had been accomplished, which has set a foundation for even greater things to come.

School board president Jackie Barlow thanked Lazovick for all his efforts for the district.

“We had a great four years under his leadership,” she said.

She said she hopes the district can maintain his legacy, including continued observance of the district motto developed under Lazovick that begins, “We will teach them one and all.”

“Dr. Lazovick, thank you for all you have done for the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School district,” Barlow said. “Goodbye, good luck, good healt, and stay in touch.”

Board vice president Jill Gladstone said she is pleased she has been on the board while Lazovick was at the helm.

“The district has come a long way,” she said.

Thomas Ficarra will serve as the interim superintendent in Bridgewater-Raritan, beginning July 1. The search for a permanent superintendent will extend into next year, as the board felt that now was not the proper time to hire a new superintendent with all the uncertainty surrounding the district and the nation regarding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Lazovick thanked the community and administrators, plus students and staff who had recorded videos regarding district achievements, including the Class of 2020. Lazovick said he has also spoken with Bridgewater-Raritan High School principal Charles Ezell about working within the governor’s guidelines to potentially hold as few live high school graduation ceremonies as possible, with two guests allowed per graduating senior.

He added that the seniors have been heard regarding their desire for a live graduation, but he reiterated that TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots, has only been approved to host a maximum of 500 individuals at one time. At least two graduation ceremonies would need to be held “to make it happen.”

Lazovick explained the district is trying to get all potential graduation information up on one page on the district website, hopefully soon. He also said that if live graduations can be held, they will likely occur early in the morning the week of July 20, possibly on July 22-23, but he stressed that those dates are “not confirmed.”

The coronavirus shut down Bridgewater-Raritan’s school buildings in March and initiated the use of distance learning, which may still be in use come September if the pandemic situation does not improve.

In discussing kindergarten through 12th summer learning opportunities, Lazovick said they are optional, and that information about them is already up on the district website. Student accounts will also stay open this summer, with returning students being allowed to keep district-provided electronic devices through the summer months.

He also said that distance learning technical support will continue “throughout the summer,” before voicing his final, formal farewell to the district.

“I wish everyone the best moving forward,” said Lazovick. “Thank you one more time, and everyone stay safe.”