MADISON, NJ – The Madison Board of Education plans to have a new schools superintendent in place within the next six weeks and in time for the 2011-2012 budget process.

“We’re interviewing people,” said Board of Education member Lisa Gilbert.

President Lisa Ellis confirmed the board interviewed eight candidates to replace interim superintendent James Dwyer, who has been serving the borough since August when Richard Noonan stepped down in June to take a superintendent's post in a town outside Philadelphia.

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“We’re hoping to have someone in place by the end of January,” said Ellis. “That’s been our goal.”

Ellis would not name the four remaining candidates; however, she said final interviews will conclude before Tuesday.

Although salary has not come up in any discussions with the candidates, Ellis said she is sure those interviewed are aware that the borough may be held to Governor Chris Christie’s proposed $175,000 superintendent salary cap scheduled to take effect Feb. 7, 2011.

“We are asking them if they are willing to work within the cap,” she said. “I think people understand that there’s not a whole lot of choice.”

The Chatham Board of Education this week voted to approve a resolution supporting a new three-year contract with veteran superintendent Jim O'Neill. Under the new contract, which would take effect in June, O'Neill's present salary of $210,000 would exceed the new state cap of $175,000 mandated by Gov. Christie in July.

Parsippany, like Chatham, also voted to defy the governor’s moratorium that prohibits exceeding the proposed salary cap when it approved a contract extension for Superintendent Lee Seitz earlier this month.

In October, the Madison board held a public session aimed at gathering input on hiring criteria for the new superintendent including training and experience before posting the position in November.

Prior to arriving at Madison, interim superintendent Dwyer spent 19 years as the superintendent for the Somerville School District and served in a host of interim positions, most recently in Wayne and Parsippany.