Somerville Schools Invite Public Input on Selection of New School Superintendent

Public input is invited at two meetings Feb. 13 to discuss replacement of Somerville Schools Superintendent Timothy Purnell, who resigned in December but will remain with the district through June Credits: Courtesy NJEA

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Board of Education invites residents and school staff to provide input into the selection of a new Superintendent of Schools by attending one of two meetings on Monday, Feb. 13 to to examine  “critical issues and future initiatives.”

The first meeting - for staff only - begins at 3:20 p.m. in the Somerville High School auditorium, 222 Davenport St. The second meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Somerville Middle School, 51 West High St. Parking is available in the rear of the Middle School; enter through cafeteria doors adjacent to the parking lot.

Search consultant Gwen H. Thornton from the New Jersey School Boards Association will explain the search procedure, the roles played by the Board, the staff and the public in the process, and the calendar for the actual search.

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Discussion will center on the strengths, concerns, on-going issues and future initiatives which will face the new superintendent. Information gathered, together with input from other focus groups, will be used to shape a variety of candidate review documents and the interview questions.

Somerville schools Superintendent Timothy Purnell, who came to the borough in 2011 from Harding, announced in December that he would be leaving the district to become executive director of the American Montessori Society effective Aug. 1

He will remain on the job in Somerville until the school year is completed in June.

Purnell distinguished himself on the state and national level during his tenure. In 2015, he was named New Jersey School Superintendent of the Year; in August of last year, just four months prior to his announcement, he was named Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents.

An adjunct professor at Montclair State University since 2002, the website rated him the top professor in the country 2015.

In his resignation letter of Dec. 13, 2016, Purnell wrote, “I assure you that the decision to leave was not an easy one.”

The letter continued, “With your assistance and support, our district has made great strides for all levels of learners in a trauma-sensitive environment that encourages students to develop a love for learning. Somerville has afforded me the opportunity to work with talented student and supportive parents and community members.

“The teachers and administrators are among the brightest and most energetic in their profession. Our tremendous accomplishments, however, would not be possible without the dedication and vision of the members of the Board of Education.

“This is truly a special community!”

For more information, please call the Board Office at (908) 243-1573.

Fort those unable to attend either of the meetings, feedback may be left online at

Surveys must be completed by Weds. Feb. 15.

In the event of inclement weather, further information will be posted on the District website.

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