NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Amid an emotional farewell to graduating students, retiring teachers, and the district's top administrator, the New Brunswick Board of Education confirmed Aubrey Johnson to be the district's next Supeintendent at their meeting on June 16.
Johnson, an administrator in the Paterson school district, will start his new job on July 1, where he will be paid a $177,500 annual salary.
He had been rumored to be the top choice for the powerful job, as we reported in April, and replaces Richard Kaplan, who served as Superintendent for over a decade and is now retiring.
Board President Patricia Sadowski, and a new member who had just joined the board minutes earlier, each abstained from the vote on Johnson's appointment. Officials were unable to provide the final vote tally two days later.
"Mr. Kaplan, from all of us here at the board, you done good," said Sadowski, after reminiscing about her time working with the outgoing Superintendent.
Prior to approving the three-year contract with Johnson, the school board voted to replace retiring board member John Krenos with Jennifer Shukaitis, a resident of Jefferson Avenue who was one of five who formally expressed interest in the job.
Johnson was selected after a process led by former State Commissioner of Education William Librera, who now runs the firm West Hudson Associates.
Johnson had previously served as a assistant superintendent in Paterson, a position which garnered a $150,00 yearly salary since he was appointed in 2012. Librera would have known Johnson from his work there, as West Hudson also has done consulting work for that district.
Johnson is a close ally of Donnie Evans, the state-appointed Paterson Superintendent first hired by ex-Governor Jon Corzine.
Eight months after his appointment, Johnson was put in charge of the "Initiation Zone" program, which was "designed to accelerate improvements in student achievement and non-academic outcomes."
The program encompassed the "district’s six elementary priority schools, fourteen focus elementary schools, and four focus high schools, each of which implements the Regional Achivement Center Approach."
Ultimately, it led to Governor Chris Christie restoring partial control of the Paterson school district to local officials.
Johnson's financial disclosure form shows that he also owns a private pre-K school called "Johnson's Academy" in Queens.
His LinkedIn profile shows seems to indicate that he resides in Teaneck, more than 40 miles north of New Brunswick. He was noncommittal when asked if he would relocate to New Brunswick for his three-year term.
"New Brunswick is a really, really great city and as I transition, more opportunities will arise," Johnson told New Brunswick Today.
Johnson is currently married to Christine Johnson, the principal at Paterson Dale Avenue High School.
She came under fire in 2014 when she failed to notify authorities that a child was given to a stranger, instead only getting the school security involved in the matter, according to PatersonPress.com's Joe Malinconico.
A group of 25 protestors took to a September 2014 Paterson school board meeting to voice their displeasure, and asserted that Christine Johnson should be punished.
Johnson also made headlines earlier this year, when it was announced by Paterson school officials that they would be opening an all-boys school, designed to improve academic performance of African American and Latino students. The school would have 60 spots available, and would hold a lottery to see who would be admitted.
City Councilman Glenn Fleming, who serves as the Council's liason to the school board, said the single-gender school was one idea of Johnson's in particular that he liked.