NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—As the district’s first new Superintendent in more than a decade took his seat on the dais for the first time, the Board of Education’s President praised him, saying he had “re-invigorated” the district.
Aubrey Johnson took over as Superintendent on July 1, but the July 21 meeting was his first on the stage with the board members and the district’s professionals.
“I think he has some really unique ideas and I think we’re going to move things forward,” BOE President Patricia Sadowski told the sparse crowd at the July 21 BOE meeting.
“I just welcome you all to come along on our ride… I’m excited and I’m really glad Mr. Johnson’s here with us,” Sadowski said, adding that one of her goals this year will be to get more NBHS alumni involved in the district.
During the Johnson’s first meeting in power, the board voted to approve contracts with three key administrators, as well as major textbook, healthcare, and maintenance vendors, as well as change the job descriptions for three additional positions.
Johnson said he is “re-evaluating” the current principals assigned to each of the city’s schools, but so far has not made any major changes to the administration.
“I won’t be able to give you that information right now, but most likely there will be some moves,” said Johnson, when asked about the principal assignments.
“At this time, I am re-evaluating some of the principals. There’s a possibility that there will be some moves.”
Many of the major players who were a part of the administration of Johnson’s predeccesor, Richard Kaplan, remain on the payroll.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction John Anzul, who was rumored to be a finalist for the Superintendent job himself, was seated front and center next to Johnson instead of in his usual position off to the side.
At the meeting, Anzul was approved by the Board of Ed to continue in his position, as was Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Kathy Antoine-Smith, and Business Administrator Richard Jannarone.
During her “President’s Report,” Sadowski gave a vote of confidence to Johnson, mentioning a retreat held recently with the new Superintendent and the nine-member Board of Education.
“We’re newly invigorated, okay?” said Sadowski. “And we’re going to look at our curriculum. We’re going to work with Dr. Anzul. We’re gonna hopefully start putting things in place, moving our students along.”
“That means that everybody’s going to be accountable and we’re going to have high expectations for our students,” Sadowski said. “We can talk a good story but we have to follow through.”
“We are going to be doing some new and exciting things,” she said, specifically citing the ongoing installation of a new turf field at Memorial Stadium.
“It sounds exciting to me and I”m really looking forward to it,” Sadowski said of Johnson’s “unique ideas,” comparing the recent progress to “when you kind of get yourself in a rut” at a job, “and then you do some professional development.”
Sadowski said that Johnson and the BOE will be evaluating every aspect of the school district, which is responsible for educating more than 9,300 children.
“We’re looking at everything. We’re looking at performance, highly effective staff, highly effective administrators, highly effective central office, and hopefully a highly effective board,” Sadowski said.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.