After a long day of meeting with members of Bloomfield’s community, Barbara Strobert said patterns had started to emerge.
Strobert spent Wednesday asking teachers, parents and officials what qualities they wanted in a new head of the school district. Prior to the evening meeting, Strobert had met with teachers, township council members and other representatives of the community. She said the consensus was the district needed a strong leader able to work with the school’s existing infrastructure to establish continuity and order.
The former Essex Fells superintendent and current Seton Hall professor also drew on her personal experience to make recommendations about how Bloomfield schools should operate.
Parents said they wanted an experienced superintendent with a strong background in education who could build a strong central office with special attention paid to the unique needs of Bloomfield.
Speaking at a 7:30 p.m. forum for parents at the Board of Education Administration building, she stressed that while she was not directly involved with hiring the new school official, she was collecting input and offering guidance on the hiring process.
Parents who attended the meeting voiced frustration in addition to recommendations for the new schools superintendent.
“This has been an emotional four months in the district,” one of the first parents to speak said.
Other forum attendees stressed the need for the Superintendent to have a strong background in education as opposed to education administration.
“There’s been a musical chairs of superintendents moving from district to district,” the parent said. He added: “We’ve had climbers and career politicians with no real skills but they fancy themselves managers.”
Another parent stressed that the next superintendent needs to have a deep understanding of Bloomfield.
“We need somebody with a vision adapted to our diversity and recognize it’s a working class town,” the parent said.
Strobert said the ideal Superintendent would be a leader ready to work in collaboration with other education professionals.
“You don’t need an expert in business or accounting,” she said. “You need someone who will have a close relationship with the business administrator.”
To that end, Strobert recommended that the superintendent hire the business administrator. Bloomfield’s current school administrator, James Verbist is an Interim Business Administrator.
The gathered parents did not agree on all recommendations. One community member said that the district needed a “change agent.” Another debated the suggestion.
“Our previous superintendent was a change agent, but his changes did not have an impact,” the parent said, pointing to Superintendent Jason Bing’s “Renaissance Learning” effort as an experiment that didn’t result in success.
Another parent with a background in education implied that Bing lacked experience saying that the former superintendent was a “good guy” who didn’t understand the dynamics of Bloomfield schools.
Other parents said the new superintendent needed to be an effective communicator and a strong presence on the school board.
“Whoever is selected needs to be self confident enough to define roles for the board,” Strobert said.