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Letter: Parent Expresses Reservations About Interim Superintendent

Fort Lee resident and parent Stefanie Stuart addressed these remarks to the Fort Lee Board of Education Monday, April 16, 2012. The complete text was subsequently submitted to Patch as a letter to the editor.

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.

Tracy April 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Are you the real Billy Mays? The one that I known wouldn't consider that. I guess everyone will figure out who you are! A failing school rallying around teachers who have been recommended for non-resign, its just not smart.
Ava May 02, 2012 at 04:44 AM
The principal signed off for them to be tenured. The decision was purely engravalle. If the middle school isn't performing then get rid of the bad teachers there is no reason to get rid of the good ones. Tenure doesn't mean that you cannot be fired it just means that you need a reason.
William Mays May 02, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Is the board meeting attendance really that low?
William Mays May 02, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Also Tracy, these teachers seem to be the best teachers that LFCMS has, and they are getting laid off? This superintendent is a moron if he is gonna do that.
Ava May 04, 2012 at 05:08 AM
comments like that are the reason there are so many bullying issues in our schools. You may not like her style but there is no need for name calling. That is just immature.

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