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Superintendent Search Down To Two Finalists

Steven Engravalle’s contract as Interim Superintendent expires at the end of June, but the school board doesn’t have any meetings scheduled before then. Either or both of those things could change soon.

With Interim Superintendent of Schools Steven Engravalle’s “interim” status set to expire at the end of June, the has to make a decision soon. Their choices are to appoint a permanent superintendent—whether Engravalle or someone else—or extend Engravalle’s interim status.

School board member and chair of the personnel committee Peter Suh said Monday the board, which has met with seven candidates, has identified two finalists for the job, although he noted that “for privacy purposes,” the board couldn’t disclose any names.

“We’ve asked for one to return, and we will have a resolution for you shortly,” Suh said at the school board’s regular business meeting at . “The board needs to discuss and consider the qualities of the two finalists.”

Fort Lee resident Nancy Stern pointed out that the school board’s next scheduled meeting isn’t until July 9, and reminded board members that they once said they would consider a finalists’ forum.

“Since Mr. Engravalle’s appointment as interim superintendent is over as of June 30, my question is, is the board planning on having an extra meeting between now and then because otherwise, as of July 1, you will not have a superintendent in town,” Stern said.

Board member Charlie Luppino said, “Trying to get nine board members together in one room” is a challenge at this time of year, but he also said, “We are trying to get together on June 18 and June 25.”

Asked if the board intends to appoint someone to the post at one of those meetings, Suh said, “Yes; the second meeting.”

“It does not appear we’re going to have a full board at the first meeting on the18th,” Suh said.

After Monday’s board meeting, Suh told Patch, “We interviewed one [of the finalists] today, and we feel that we don’t need to meet with the second person.”

He said the potential meetings on June 18 and/or June 25 would be public, but that notifications haven’t gone out yet, so those dates are not set in stone.

“The main problem was availability of all the board members,” Suh said. “We’re trying to get the meeting in before the 30th, which is the end, exactly, of [Engravalle’s] contract, so we need to get something done.”

But Suh also said that the board needs county approval on a superintendent’s contract so if Engravalle were appointed, he would likely need to be extended as interim superintendent until that approval came through.

“We’re not discussing contracts at this point; we’re just discussing who the best person for the position is,” Suh said. “We’re not even at the point of negotiating dollars and cents yet. We’re still a bit away, but we don’t want to rush.”

He said the “worst case scenario” would be a straight extension of Engravalle’s status as interim superintendent.

CD Cantelli June 13, 2012 at 06:39 PM
So the board paid 10k for 2 candidates and I bet neither one is as qualified as what they have right now as interim. Excellent use of resources. Meantime, the high school music program had to raise their own funds to continue on some kind of trip. If these are not top quality candidates, I think the recruiting company should reimburse Fort Lee for the money on this so called search.
CD Cantelli June 13, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Engravalle is the most qualified. His only problem has been that he doesn't kiss up to the parents who look for favors for their kids. I don't see this as a problem, but a strength.
William Mays June 13, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I like him too, but if he is going to fire good teachers, and then make up excuses and go on trips to avoid meetings, then I don't think he's suited for the town.
Tracy June 13, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Art- I have always been supportive of Mr. Engravalle appointment, he has done more good in the just in the past few months compared to years of mediocrity from his predecessors. I truly believe that people will be pleased with his ability to get things done, while continuing to develop the SD. And I feel that we owe stability to the teachers and children of the community. While I do not want the BOE to hasten a decision like this, I am looking forward to a decision made soon.
Tracy June 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Billy, things are not always as they seem.
William Mays June 13, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Whats that supposed to mean? Because if you know more, then I'd like to know as well.
Luca D. June 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM
The current Superintendent should be appointed to the position so that we can focus on the important issues facing the Fort Lee education system. The fact that a search group only found 1 other "qualified" candidate to even come close to Steve Engravalle says it all. Enough with the people who want a warm and fuzzy leader. We have a leader who does the job well, has been recognized for doing the job well and has assisted in highlighting this town to the rest of the State. The horse and pony show must end and it is up to the BOE to end it.
Deb Fein June 14, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Dear Clare: With all due respect, Berman was a horrible Principal who acted as if he was retired before he was suspended. He should not be superintendent.
William Mays June 14, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Really? Because most of the people I've talked to said that the high school had a better reputation before he was fired.
Deb Fein June 14, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Yes, the high school has a better reputation now with a Progressive Principal; not someone glued to their desk! Our current Principal see students as the individuals they are, not carbon copies of each other.
William Mays June 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
You obviously haven't talked to many students.
Paul Umrichin June 15, 2012 at 02:16 AM
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20120613/NEWS01/306130019/Hilburgh-back-Beacon-schools-chief-job
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Wow, haha, what a loser. He probably got fired from there too.
Paul Umrichin June 15, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Mr. Engravalle has led the school district superbly over the past school year. It seems to me that he has a vision for what he wants out of a school district. If given the helm we should see more innovative ideas brought in for the benefit of our students. Like our elected officials he will have critics but that's part of the job. There is no person who will be able to please this entire community. Make the decision for Mr. Engravalle and let's move forward.
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I have no problem with him, except that minor blemish with him FIRING two teachers. Going out of his way to do it as well.
Paul Umrichin June 15, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Can't say that I disagree with you on that. Having kids who had both of them I am disappointed we will probably lose them.
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Thats what I mean though, I don't want the superintendent to be someone who would pull crap like that and then not attend meetings at which these firings were being protested at.
Ryan June 15, 2012 at 03:14 AM
He does kiss up to the parents... hello look at the two teachers being fired! A few parents complain that their child doesn't get an A+ and they call the superintendent and say they are a bad teacher and he's like ok I will discipline them.
Nice Jewish Boy from Fort Lee June 15, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Some people know more and more about less and less.
Deb Fein June 15, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Mr. Mays: You are amazing with your blasphemy. Mrs. Church is a superb educator iwth a vision. I can't think of what the high school would be like without her, and my son is one of the students who has benefitted dfrom her presence. I know Priscilla Church for many years, sat in meetings with her, and her and other school-wide events.
Deb Fein June 15, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Mr. Mays: You are amazing with your blasphemy. Mrs. Church is a superb educator iwth a vision. I can't think of what the high school would be like without her, and my son is one of the students who has benefitted dfrom her presence. I know Priscilla Church for many years, sat in meetings with her, and her and other school-wide events. BTW, not interested in your response.
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Oh yeah, I really like that, trying to end the debate by putting a comment like that. Maybe if you weren't so out of touch, and listened to a few others about how organized she is, and even asked a few teachers, you'd change your opinion. Because so far all of my friends and relatives who have kids in that school have told told me the teachers dislike her and so do the kids.
Deb Fein June 15, 2012 at 08:39 PM
My feeling is you are out of touch, Mr. Mays. Oh yeah, years ago, it was so much better (like not) when teachers had kids churning out worksheet after worksheet like in the old factory model. Or there was one illustrious high school teacher that I knew of who was using the same tired lesson plans thirty years later under Berman. Or one noted math teacher who was calling the kids 'stupid.' No, I say we are way ahead only now with a progressive Principal who cares. The people who resist dislike change. consider this the end of my posts.
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
You really don't like it when people argue with you, do you? I don't like teachers who are afraid of children and parents, they shouldn't have to be. If he was calling them stupid, they probably were stupid. Boo hoo, they called someone stupid, high school isn't Kindergarten, I like teachers who aren't pretentious. and aren't afraid to use language that makes a point. You call her progressive? Restricting kids from going out for lunch is not progressive, and I have real concerns that Chartwells had a part in this, as every student who goes out for lunch means that Chartwells doesn't gain any money. They could very well be paying off school officials. When I was at Fort Lee HS, people could go out for lunch, and I turned out fine. Of course we had people cutting class, but they always got in trouble for it. If someone doesn't want to learn, it's their problem.
Deb Fein June 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I AM A TEACHER AND NOT CHILD SHOULD EVER BE CALLED STUPID! It is against professional protocol.. There are reasons why the students weren't going out for lunch, reasons which I agree with. Go to a PTA meeting sometime, maybe you'll learn something. However, this topic is supposed to be about the superintendent, not the high school.
William Mays June 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM
You mean the suck-up to the principal and get your kids in honors classes meetings? Because thats what those were when I was in middle school and high school. Big deal, some kids got into fights, and as I understand, most people sneak out anyway.
Ryan June 19, 2012 at 04:44 AM
What has Engravalle done for this district? All I have seen that was somewhat good was having Good Morning Joe film here.... other than that I don't really see what he has done to make everyone blindly follow him. He rules as a dictator and that is not a good thing. Why have principals if you aren't going to listen to them.... maybe he should do all of the teacher evaluations himself because he knows best after only teaching for 3 years. Why don't we put every kid in honors and give everyone A's? It's easier, no complaints. Parents are starting to run the schools instead of the teachers. Many parents do not know how to be a teacher so they shouldn't suggest how to teach a class. If they are concerned about a grade, talk to the teacher. The teachers he let go where not the kind that just sat behind a desk and handed out worksheets but still were told their teaching performance was below average and because parents complained because they defended their grading systems. We are becoming a district where the parents run the schools and if they do not like something, lets call the Superintendent and get the teacher fired. Teachers do not want to fail students, students earn the grade that they get. It would be a lot easier to give them all A's and call it a day but that is not how the world works. If teachers are going to prepare them for life, they need to be fair and honest. This is another black eye on Fort Lee.
Lisa Salvato June 19, 2012 at 06:05 AM
First they were complaining that he doesn't listen to the parents and now they're complaining that he listens to parents too much? This is such bull. This is just the latest round of rumors started by a group of enraged bitter women who lost their bid for the board. Stay home! You're ruining any chance this district has of keeping a decent super
Nice Jewish Boy from Fort Lee June 19, 2012 at 02:43 PM
If you don't agree with LS, don't post here. Sad.
Ryan June 20, 2012 at 12:16 AM
he listened to a few parents that complained that their child did not get the grades they felt they deserved. Why don't they teach the class? He listens when people bash teachers not praise them. There are parents that are nuts and as soon as they don't get their way they call up "steve" and he doesn't investigate or ask the teachers or principal for their side he just fires them. We are getting to the point when the teachers are just going to give the kids the A so they don't get fired.

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