SUMMIT, NJ—Parents, teaching staff members and other stakeholders in Summit should be included in a search committee to find a replacement for superintendent of schools Nathan Parker, who will be retiring from the district next year, according to RISE (Residents Interested in Summit Education).

Juliet Eck of 26 Prospect Street, who will have three children in the Brayton School next year and is a founding member of RISE, told the board of education at its workshop session on Thursday that her group received support from 127 of its members in response to an email sent to group members asking members if they agreed with the idea of a more inclusive search committee.

While acknowledging that Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the search firm contracted by the board to find superintendent candidates, and the board itself have had three forums at which teachers, parents and other stakeholders have given input, Eck said those who work with children every day in the schools and parents can bring added benefits as members of a search committee.

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She added, “RISE members know that the board of education’s most important function is to choose the next superintendent. We are not here to request a change to that. We truly appreciate the effort and time you all put into the board of education voluntarily, and your work benefits all Summit’s public school children. What we do want to do is encourage a much richer, well-rounded choice by asking you to include input from people who are actively engaged with the education of our children. These people would serve on a search committee alongside you, and would do everything you do except make the final choice.”

Eck also said that the school board, an unelected body, could benefit from a broader representation of the community and diversity of opinion that would come from people with backgrounds in disciplines outside education. 

Resident Donna Gangi of 124 Prospect Street added that the board should hear more from the “people in the trenches who work with our children every day” to give the education board insight in may not have in deciding on a new superintendent.

On another matter, Lisa Hartman of 53 Essex Road said her children questioned why they often have substitute teachers and she asked whether there was a “cap” on the amount of time teachers took away from their classes to attend meetings and professional workshops.

District human resources director Kenneth Shulack replied that there was no formal cap on meetings and professional development. He noted that the contemplated introduction of a new mathematics program, instruction on the Common Core standards and outlining of new teaching methods for teachers beginning employment in the district do take time out of the classroom.

Shulack added that teachers are expected to log 100 professional development hours in addition to attending half-day development sessions sponsored by the district.

He pointed out, however, that principals involved in instruction for new teachers this year reduced those sessions from full-day to half-day sessions so the teachers could spend more time in the classroom.

Assistant superintendent of schools Julie Glazer added that, although there have been a number of visits to schools in other districts to gain background in connection with selection of a new mathematics program, study of the New Visions mathematics program is entering a phase where less time will be spent outside district classrooms.

Assistant superintendent for business Louis Pepe also noted that any teacher absenteeism is tracked in teacher records as part of their evaluation.

On another matter, in response to recent district reports on the state report card, parents Teresa Usme and Irvy Pinzon, her husband, said there seemed to be lower expectations among certain school staff members about students from certain groups in the community.

Usme said school counselors questioned why she did so well academically and the implication was made that someone with her son’s cultural background would be unable to handle some of the district’s more advanced classes.

Pinzon also said that the district should put more effort into designing programs that take into account mult-cultural differences in Hilltop City families. He did, however, praise the district for its Latino Family Literacy Project.

On another matter, Glazer reported that Paul Arilotta was expected to be named at the board’s April 24 meeting as interim director of human resources at $550 per diem, effective July 1. Arilotta, who has been serving as interim director of human resources in the Mamoroneck, NY Union Free School District, has previously served as a principal and superintendent of schools. He will temporarily replace Shulack, who is retiring.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting, the school approved contracts for seating in connection with the middle school auditorium renovation, ceiling plaster and canopy demolition in connection with Franklin School renovations, asbestos floor tile removal and related work in the middle school auditorium and classrooms and project monitoring services in connection with removal of asbestos-containing materials in connection with the high school boiler room project