Paterson schools start superintendent search with online survey this week

·2 min read

PATERSON — Is the city school district heading in the right direction? Are Paterson’s schools safe? Are the district’s students on track for college and careers?

Those are some of the questions covered in a public survey commissioned by the Paterson Board of Education as it searches for the city’s next schools superintendent.

Officials on Monday announced the online survey, which is available through a link on the district website. Parents, employees, students and community members have until Aug. 15 to submit responses.

“This is the first time the decision of who will lead the district will be made by the Paterson Board of Education since local control of the district was restored in January 2021,” said school board Vice President Nakima Redmon, who chairs the board’s Superintendent Search Committee. “It is critical that we have input from parents and other stakeholders as we make that decision.”

Paterson schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer (left) speaks to Neil Mapp, the district's chief facility and custodial services officer, and state Sen. Nellie Pou during a tour outside Public School 3 on June 8, 2022.
Paterson schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer (left) speaks to Neil Mapp, the district's chief facility and custodial services officer, and state Sen. Nellie Pou during a tour outside Public School 3 on June 8, 2022.

The school district, which has 27,000 students, is paying Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates $49,500 to conduct the search. The first part of this week’s survey asks 20 questions about the state of the school district. The second asks people what leadership skills they want to see in the next superintendent.

Parents will also have an opportunity to express their views in an online community forum scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. at pps.eduvision.tv/LiveEvents.

The survey can also be reached directly at https://survey2.ecragroup.com/index.php/194288?lang=en.

Current Superintendent Eileen Shafer announced her retirement in December and initially said she would leave the job at the end of the 2021-22 year on June 30. But the school board extended her contract for another 12 months because of delays in finding her replacement.

The president of the Paterson teachers’ union, John McEntee Jr., said he was not very impressed with the search firm’s survey. McEntee said he had expected the questions to be far more extensive.

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“There’s nothing here about whether the person should have a doctorate, or if the person should have a background in Paterson,” McEntee said.

During the 2018 search that led to Shafer’s appointment, there had been debate about whether the superintendent should have a doctorate degree in education.

The executive director of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy group, said this week’s survey represented only a first step in getting public input. Rosie Grant said there would be subsequent opportunities for people to weigh in on a deeper level. Grant is a member of the district’s search committee.

When asked about the survey being just one week long, Grant said, “I hope it’s enough time and that if there aren’t enough responses, it would be extended.”

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.

Email: editor@patersonpress.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Paterson NJ schools superintendent search starts with public survey