Fort Lee BOE Shuffles School Principals
The Fort Lee Board of Education approved a resolution calling for a “restructuring” of administrative staff. Several principals change schools; Priscilla Church to stay at high school.
When school reopens in the fall, students at Fort Lee High School, School No. 2 and School No. 4 will be greeted by the same principals their schools had the previous year. But the same can’t be said for students at Fort Lee School No. 3, Lewis F. Cole Middle School, School No. 1 and the Fort Lee Early Childhood Center (FLECC).
That’s because the Fort Lee Board of Education Monday approved a walk-in resolution restructuring the district’s administrative staff, assigning three current principals to different schools and moving someone who wasn’t a principal during the 2011-2012 school year but who has an administrative certificate to FLECC to serve as on-site administrator.
The administrative assignments for the 2012-2013 school year approved by the board are as follows:
- School No. 1 – Former middle school principal Rosemary Giacomelli
- School No. 2 – No change (Marianela Martin, principal)
- School No. 3 – Former FLECC principal Jay Berman
- School No. 4 – No change (Peter Emr, principal)
- Lewis F. Cole Middle School – Former School No. 3 principal Robert Kravitz
- Fort Lee High School – No change (Priscilla Church, principal)
- FLECC – Director of Special Education Ann Marie Bruder, supervisor
Superintendent of Schools Steven Engravalle called it an “administrative restructuring proposal” that he presented to the board in executive session Monday and said, “I would imagine that a lot of folks are here tonight to talk about that.”
Engravalle said he heard from a lot of people over the weekend expressing concerns about rumors they’d heard, though he noted that he had conversations with the staff members involved last week “because I wanted to talk to individuals.”
“This proposal that I put forth to the Board of Education is for one reason and one reason only,” Engravalle said. “As a professional educator, it is my best professional recommendation of how we can utilize the expert staff that we have in this district for the best benefit of the children of Fort Lee.”
Engravalle acknowledged that while many people may not agree with the plan or parts of it, “I am paid to do a job, and that job is to give you my best professional recommendation.”
“Part of what helped me make the decision for this restructuring proposal is how to utilize the strengths of each individual,” Engravalle said.
One of the rumors circulating that had a lot of people concerned was that Church would no longer be the principal of the high school, but that turned out not to be the case, much to the relief of Fort Lee resident Anna Szterenfeld, among others.
“I think many people in this room will be extremely relieved to see that you are leaving the high school administration in place,” Szterenfeld said. “Priscilla Church has the confidence and support of most of the parents in the high school. She’s done an exceptional job in the last two years.”
Szterenfeld praised Church for “setting the ship right” at the school “after years of scandal” and “revolving-door administrators.”
“You finally have a leader in place who’s implementing a plan and a long-term vision for the high school, and I think you got it right on this one,” she said.
Answering another concern, Engravalle explained that appointing Bruder as site supervisor of FLECC does not mean the board will now need to hire another director of special education, and that it does not “change the scope” of Bruder’s responsibilities.
“The principal of FLECC is the principal of School 1,” Engravalle said. “Each building requires someone with an administrative certificate to be present on-site during school hours. So at this point, the structure is to place not a principal, but someone on-site with an administrative certificate to meet the requirements of law.”
Giacomelli said her move to School No. 1 was “not a voluntary move for me,” but she said she did speak with Engravalle about the move and accepted it.
“My love and passion is middle school,” Giacomelli said. “I do love the age group at the middle school, but it will be fine.”
Giacomelli added, “We’ll have a good time, the kids will be great and anyone here that has an elementary student going to School No. 1, not to worry; it will be a very successful time for them.”
She also said she hoped the faculty at her new school would embrace her.
Patch will have more on Monday's Fort Lee Board of Education meeting.