Livingston Board of Ed Introduces Leading Candidate for Superintendent

Essex County Teacher of the Year, Lucy Lee Credits: Marilyn Lehren

LIVINGSTON, NJ – On May 6, the Livingston Board of Education announced that Dr. John Alfieri has emerged as the leading candidate for the soon to be vacated Superintendent position, currently held by Dr. Brad Draeger. Alfieri will be touring the district meeting with members of the administration, staff and students while the Livingston BOE continues its due diligence. Alferi is currently the Superintendent of Schools for the Vernon Township school district.

“Colleagues describe Dr. Alfieri as an intelligent, collaborative educational leader who manages with integrity,” Board president Ronnie Spring said. “He is someone who brings quality education, high rigor and high performance wherever he goes.”

The search process began with an online survey and continued with small group and community outreach measures. Spring emphasized that the Board “sought detailed community input at all levels of the search process.”

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In addition to the momentous change in leadership, the Board also addressed other new positions within the district, and how those additions will impact the district’s finances. Draeger asserted that the additions of an Assistant Principal position and a Supervisor of Special Education position at Heritage Middle School will address both security concerns and administrative issues.

“We’ve had our town wide safety committee raise concerns over administrative safety coverage [at Heritage]” Draeger said.  “In addition to the security, we have a crushing teacher evaluation load.” Noting that Heritage is “stretched thin” by currently operating with over 900 students and only two administrators, he described the addition of the Assistant Principal as a prudent move for both security and administrative reasons.

In addressing a public comment from a previous session, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Schools Mary Oates took time to clarify the district's approach to dual enrollment, in which students are able to take college courses from an accredited university. According to Oates, the science department offers two classes in conjunction with the University at Albany, SUNY, while business courses are offered through Fairleigh Dickinson University. Oates also pointed out that several New Jersey universities, such as Rutgers and Rowan, accept credits through the Fairleigh Dickinson's Middle College program. The program is at no cost to the district, as individual students must pay the per-credit fee themselves.

Draeger addressed the question of how such courses fit into the transcripts of Livingston students. Students can take courses at other institutions not associated with the dual enrollment program, and the completion of the course will be reflected on individual transcripts, but the grades will not impact a student's grade point average. "We are not going to examine the course rigor of every individual course and calculate whether it fits into our standards for grade point average," Draeger said.

While the meeting was heavy on administrative, fiscal and academic issues, there was also time for celebration, as the district celebrated several distinct achievements. Livingston High School was ranked as the ninth best high school in the state of New Jersey by Newsweek. Draeger contended that even when judged by different criteria, LHS continues to consistently rank in the upper five percent of schools in the country, while also cautioning against the fixation on transitory and fleeting rankings.

A more grounded example of the district's scholastic stature came in the recognition of students' achievements in the sciences. Students were recognized for achievement in the Intel Science Talent Search, the U.S. national Chemistry Olympiad, the North Jersey Regional Science Fair and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, among other competitions. Draeger took care to commend Brian Carey, head of the LHS science department.

Another LHS teacher, Chinese teacher Lucy Lee, was awarded a high honor. Lee was recognized as the Essex County teacher of the year. She will compete for a state award and potentially a national award. She is the third district teacher in seven years to be so recognized by the Essex County.

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