The district is still formulating a long-term strategy for replacing recently resigned superintendent Brian Betze, but Board President Don Mishler believes an interim candidate may be its best bet.
One of the takeaways from the district’s last superintendent search—which ended up being a two-parter—was that the talent pool for a permanent superintendent in New Jersey is somewhat thin, Mishler said.
One of the reasons—maybe the primary reason—for the scarcity of candidates is due to the state-imposed cap on superintendent salaries, according to Board Member Brandon Pugh, who said a number of administrators are willing to leave the state to make more money.
"Chances are they're not going to want to work here for $40,000 less than if they crossed state lines," he said.
Although Betze’s tenure ended prematurely, Mishler believes the board made the right decision with the information it had at the time.
“In the end, we all agreed, he’s the best candidate,” said Mishler. “Yeah, it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean the process failed.”
That being said, the district may take a different approach this time, he said, and perhaps look to hire an interim candidate “who will provide stability.”
The pool of interim candidates is deeper than the pool of permanent ones, primarily in the experience department. Mishler said there are a number of retired superintendents—some with 25-30 years of experience in districts similar to Moorestown—willing to step into an interim role.
Regardless of whether the next superintendent is interim or permanent, in-house or otherwise, Moorestown Education Association president Lisa Trapani believes it should be “someone who is equipped and prepared to lead the district, and willing to put in the time to learn about Moorestown, and to be collaborative with all staff.”
Pugh echoed Trapani, saying the district needs someone who will be a “unifier.”
“What I mean by that is somebody who takes into account what the board desires, but also works with the teachers, and most importantly, the community,” said Pugh.
In the meantime, business administrator Lynn Shugars is serving as acting superintendent.
Shugars, who has been with the district three years, said she’d never considered being a superintendent before the opportunity was presented to her.
“I sort of pictured myself being a business administrator for the rest of my career,” she said. “(The board of education) asked me and I’m honored to serve.”
Shugars hasn’t decided whether she’ll seek to stay on as superintendent once a search begins. She will be involved in the district’s strategic planning process, which is expected to begin soon.What do you think? Should the board look for an interim superintendent, or pursue a permanent replacement? Tell us in the comments below.