MADISON, NJ He presented himself as a folksy down-to-Earth guy whose family is an integral part of his internal locus for educating children and building a quality education system.
Michael Rossi spoke of the various roles he has played in his life – social studies teacher, administrator, father, coach, dancer, and most recently former superintendent of the Roxbury school system.
But at Thursday night's Madison Board of Education meeting at Madison High School, Rossi took on a new title: Madison’s new Superintendent of Schools.
“There are four characteristics you can expect from me,” Rossi said, and then rattled off qualities that he said defined his new role as a “a good match between what the district was looking for and what I can bring to the table.”
“You can expect me to be knowledgeable – I have been trained in very progressive aspects of educational practice,” he said, “approachable – a superintendent needs to be someone whom the staff and students are comfortable speaking to", “accessible – return phone calls and being present at events,” and “flexible - one decision and thought process does not apply to every situation.”
Rossi’s appointment ends a nearly five month search after former superintendent Richard Noonan resigned late last year.
By most accounts, it’s a position that will be a challenge, particularly with 2011-2012 budgetary choices under the weight of a nearly $1 million shortfall when compared to the 2010- 2011 budget year.
At Thursday’s session, business administrator Gary Lane presented the second part of the 2011-2012 budget challenges, which include what he called “tentative reductions” including the elimination of 10.7 certified staff “spread among all levels,” meaning elementary, junior and high school.
The board of education is required to submit a final 2011-2012 budget by March 28. On the way to reaching that goal, the board’s finance committee will review and asses all budget reduction ideas.
In addition, the board will be holding several public budget discussion sessions before the adoption of the final budget.
Rossi, who said that he sees his primary role as serving the community, said his first action item is to get the budget passed. Last year, Madison’s budget was defeated at the polls.
“It’s a tough thing to put together,” Rossi said of the district budget. “It’s a pressure cooker – there are all kinds of regulations and state guidelines. The only way to ensure growth moving forward is for enough people to support it.”
Rossi said his next step is execute an “entry plan” that has Rossi engaging in an information gathering process with various stakeholders in the community -- the town council, Rotary, labor union groups -- and then report back on the half year mark during his first half-year on the job. 
It’s apparently a plan that board members like.
“We are very happy to have him,” said Board of Education Vice President Patrick Rowe.
Madison Board Forum Schedule:
The forum schedule:
Thursday, March 3, 2011                  BOE meeting - adopt tentative budget - 7:30 pm
Tuesday, March 8, 2011                    Kings Road School PTO Meeting ‚ 8:45am
Wednesday, March 9, 2011              High School PTO Meeting - 7:00 pm
Thursday, March 10, 2011                Budget Forum ‚ MHS Media Center ‚ 7:00 pm
Monday, March 14, 2011                   Torey J. Sabatini School PTO Meeting - 8:45 am
Tuesday, March 22, 2011                  Budget Forum ‚MHS Media Center ‚7:00 pm
Tuesday, March 29, 2011                  BOE Meeting - adopt final budget - 7:30 pm
Thursday, March 31, 2011                Madison Junior School PTO Meeting - 7:30 pm
Monday, April 4, 2011                       Central Avenue School PTO Meeting - 7:30 pm
Wednesday, April 6, 2011                 Budget Review ‚MJS Media Center, 9:00 am
Wednesday, April 20, 2011              Budget Review ‚MHS Media Center, 7:00 pm