SUMMIT, NJ - Summit Board of Education President Vanessa Primack, in a letter to "Members of the Summit School Community," has announced that Robert Gardella will serve, effective June 1, as the Acting Superintendent of Schools. Gardella is currently the Director of Human Resources and Chief Talent Officer for the District, roles he will maintain in addition to his acting superintendent duties.
In her letter, Primack stated, "The circumstances created by the pandemic these past seven weeks, together with the on-going challenges and changing landscape, have presented the Board with a distinct new set of concerns for the district. In order for the Board to remain focused on student achievement and growth, we have asked ourselves how we may best continue to support the students and staff as we look for a new Superintendent and plan for the district’s future. To that end, I share the following transition plan and announcement:
● Superintendent Chang will continue his exemplary leadership of our district through June 1, 2020.
● In the coming weeks, Mr. Chang will both assure that current plans and operations meet our high standards and share the knowledge, information and practices necessary for excellence as we move forward.
● After June 1st, Mr. Chang will begin the process of transitioning to his new district.
● We are pleased to announce that Robert Gardella, Human Resources Director and Chief Talent Officer, will become Acting Superintendent, effective June 1, 2020.
● Mr. Gardella and Mr. Chang will work closing with one another and the Board to assure a smooth transition.
● Mr. Gardella will remain Acting Superintendent until September 1, 2020, subject to further Board of Education action."
The District is currently in the midst of a search to replace soon-to-be-departing Superintendent of Schools June Chang, who announced in January that he was retiring from his role for personal reasons and then, in early February, accepted the Superintendent's position in Rockville Centre, LI.
In March, the District -- on its website and social media -- detailed a timeline to finds Chang's successor, stating the process is expected to yield a 'Leadership Profile Report' presented at the April 16 Board of Education Meeting, with the Board of Education conducting candidate interviews from May 11 - June 1, and culminating with an "early summer" announcement of Chang's replacement.
The District hired Schaumburg, IL-based search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) and formed a search planning committee charged with facilitating and organizing the search. The committee consists of Board President Vanessa Primack, Board Vice Chair and Education Committee Chair Donna Miller, and Operations Committee Chair Chris Bonner (Policy Committee Chair Michael Colon serves as an alternate).
At the April 16 Board meeting, a representative from HYA presented information obtained via the District's community feedback gathering initiative that included a survey filled out by 1,200 participants; 21 stakeholder interviews; and several focus groups.
Gardella joined the Summit School District in July of 2019, making the transition from the neighboring Chatham where he was the Principal at Southern Boulevard Elementary School. His background also includes tenure as an assistant principal and elementary school teacher. Gardella was hired to replace Dr. Matthew Block, who left to become the Superintendent for the Livingston Public Schools.
In his human resources role, Gardella oversees the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding of all new staff into the District and is responsible for planning and implementing professional development for both newly hired and current educators.
Gardella earned his B.A. from Providence College and his M.A. from Kean University.
When asked if Gardella was candidate for the superintendent position on a permanent basis, a District communications official responded, "That falls under personnel so the information is confidential."