WATCHUNG, NJ - Amid cries of, ” Not yet!” “It’s not fair!” and “I’m not ready for summer to end,” Watchung Borough students return to school on Thursday, Sept. 5. A gleaming new STEM lab and new leadership are ready to welcome them.

Ready to greet students on Thursday is a new Interim Superintendent, Dr. Maria Cleary, who led the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. To complete the team, the Board approved the appointments of a District Business Administrator, a Director of Special Services, and a Child Study Team Secretary at the meeting. Newly hired Superintendent George Alexis, who will start in the district on Oct. 1, was in attendance to welcome them.

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The board all commented on the spirit of collaboration in the interviewing and hiring process. Board President Jessica Ingrassia commended Cleary and explained the need for Wednesday’s special meeting to approve and fill staffing holes prior to the start of school.


Richard Pepe was approved as the Business Administrator/Board Secretary for the period of October 1, 2019, but not later than November 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. Pepe will receive an annual salary of $118,000, prorated, for the 2019-2020 school year. Interim Business Administrator Valery Petrone has agreed to stay on until he starts.


Nicole DiTota was approved as the Director of Special Services at a salary of $115,000.00, prorated, to begin no later than November 1, 2019, or upon release from current District, and


Lisa Mahon was approved as the Child Study Team Secretary at a salary of $37,000.00, prorated, to begin September 9, 2019.


“Please plan to join us for Back to School Night and take a tour of our new STEM room! “ Valley View Principal Mary Nunn said in a welcome letter. “We are excited to present our new STEM curriculum as well as our new advanced classes in Language Arts and Science in grades 6-8.”

The new STEM lab is complete, and is impressive.

Cleary was complimentary of the district and said, “Wait until you see it. It is a real boon to the district. I’ve been in a lot of districts and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

All students will have days off with schools closed on Sept. 30 for Rosh Hashanah, Oct. 9 for Yom Kippur, Oct. 14 for Columbus Day and Oct. 15 for staff development. 

Back to School nights in Watchung are:

Sept. 12 (grades 5-6)

Sept. 17 ( grades 3-4)

Sept. 19 ( grades 7-8)

Sept. 24 ( grades Pre-K-2)

And at Watchung Hills, Thursday, Oct. 3  is Back to School Night and Friday, Oct. 4 is a Half Day for Students and Faculty, however, the unofficial Back to School night is the Warriors home opener this Friday night, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.



TAPinto Watchung wishes all a great 2019-20 school year. Send back to school photos to


Related: Alexis named Superintendent 



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