Editor’s Note: The Fort Lee Board of Education will have a special private work session and public meeting Monday, April 23. Click for more details.
As any parent, I feel strongly vested in the outcome of the superintendent search. Initially I was supportive of Mr. Engravalle assuming the role, and he has done a great job to date. I have no doubt that he is good enough for the job, however I strongly believe our children deserve the best, and I have reservations that Mr. Engravalle is the best candidate for the position of Superintendent. In my opinion, there are two superior candidates, namely Robert Kravitz and Frank Romano.
A superior candidate can lead by example. I don't believe Mr. Engravalle was setting a good example at a NJDOE conference where he stated "My name is Steve Engravalle, I’m the acting pretending wannabe Superintendent in the Fort Lee public schools until they kind of get out of their own way and figure out which way we’re headed …" This video is available on YouTube.
The best candidate is focused on the needs of the children. I’m disappointed that the only time I’ve seen Mr. Engravalle on site at a school was once right before the referendum. Mr. Engravalle was also conspicuously absent from DARE basketball a couple of weeks ago. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Engravalle’s governmental appointments and external commitments. Nevertheless, I personally would prefer a Superintendent whose primary commitment is irrefutably to our District.
With respect to resource utilization, I found the $30,000 expenditure on office furniture offensive. Frankly, you could probably furnish a whole house in an FG District Factor Group for $30,000. Which speaks to maximizing capital at hand. Technology is clearly important, but I would rather have my kid in an adequately temperature-controlled classroom with a phenomenal teacher, than in a closet that passes for a classroom with an under-supported teacher and an iPad. By the way, I am still perplexed as to how we cannot get video of the Board Meetings uploaded to You tube, but Mr. Engravalle did manage to get the relevant clip of a board meeting with board members supporting him, posted on his Visual CV.
An excellent candidate would be a positive, unifying and collaborative presence in the district. My understanding is that Mr. Engravalle has managed to alienate and antagonize the PTA's, which I find disconcerting. Parental involvement has repeatedly been touted as a crucial factor in student achievement and school success. Furthermore, as an incumbent, Mr. Engravalle has had ample time to develop a support base. Yet I have not experienced an inkling of a groundswell of support. Clearly he has his supporters, but they seem to be on the Board and/or outside the School system.
All this being said, Mr. Kravitz and Dr Romano each bring a lot to the table. Robert Kravitz brings an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving and has proved his worth by turning School 3 into a Blue Ribbon School. Frank Romano is not only familiar with the district, but has had the opportunity to hone his Superintendent chops outside the district. For your consideration, perhaps have Romano as Superintendent and Kravitz as Assistant? At least in this manner we can create a succession plan as well as a career path for our top administrators.
I thank you for your time and urge you to please give every candidate the full and objective consideration they deserve, and hire the absolute best person for the job.