BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The board of education has approved the hiring of an interim superintendent, as of July 1, while they continue the search to find a permanent replacement for current superintendent Russell Lazovick.

Lazovick announced in early March that he will be leaving his position as superintendent as of June 30 to become principal at Ridge High School.

At Tuesday’s virtual board of education meeting, Dr. Thomas Ficarra was approved to serve as the interim superintendent. His contract will be effective July 1, at a daily rate of $873.85.

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Board of education vice president Jill Gladstone, also the chair of the superintendent search committee, said they interviewed three applicants for the interim position, and did a screening on Zoom with all board members.

Ficarra, she said, has 19 years of experience in the Elizabeth public schools as a teacher and other positions including assistant superintendent, then served as superintendent in the Mt. Arlington school district. From there, he served 12 years as superintendent in the Morris school district.

After his retirement, Ficarra served as interim superintendent in the Hamilton Township schools for 22 months, followed by another 22 months in the South Orange/Maplewood school district.

“We were very impressed with his long track record of leadership,” Gladstone said. “He has a wealth of experience.”

Board member Steven Singer was the lone vote against the appointment approval, while all other board members voted yes.

Ficarra said he would like to thank the board for working hard to make sure everything was set for the board meeting and his appointment.

“I’ve heard from many people around the state that you did your due diligence in checking references,” he said.

Ficarra said he is looking forward to the next few months to meet with board members and senior staff members to get a good handle on the district before he begins his tenure in July.

“I really need to get in to the district, and I am anxious to meet the key communicators and board members individually, the staff members and students, and get a grasp and feel for the district and the needs of the district,” he said. “I am looking forward to getting back into the thick of things and opening school and planning for the future.”

As for the search for a permanent replacement, Gladstone said the ad for the new superintendent was posted, with a deadline for applications of June 1.