Upper Twp hires Superintendent while Ocean City, NJ has Interim
While the Upper Township School District will have a Superintendent in place for the 2023-24 School Year, their neighbors in Ocean City have their second Interim Superintendent since 2021 entering the upcoming school year.
There is an incredible contrast of situations between how these two openings have been handled by everyone involved. Upper Township has Superintendent Vincent Palmieri in place for 20 years until he submitted his letter of resignation in November of 2022. Even Palmieri has remained employed in another capacity in the Upper Township School District, the Interim Superintendent job was held by Chris Kobik was held for the remainder of the 2022-23 School Year. The Upper Township Board of Education voted to hire Allison Pessolano as the next Full-Time Superintendent starting with the 2023-24 School Year and she is under contract through 2026. Pessolano attended Upper Township Schools through Eighth Grade and her family has lived in the area for decades. So this is a homecoming for the former Middle School Math Teacher who worked her way up the ladder to become Principal at Woodstown Middle School for six years and later Acting Superintendent before taking the Upper Township job.
The situation for the Ocean City School District Superintendent position is a real disparity compared to Upper Township. The top position in the island community school district, whose High School is attended by many families from Sea Isle City and Upper Township for decades, use to have stability when the job was held by Dr. Kathleen Taylor for over a decade. Dr. Taylor choose to retire at the end of the 2020-21 School Year and the Board of Education hired Dr. Thomas Baruffi to hold the job on an interim basis while the district searched for a new full-time Superintendent. Baruffi held the position for the 2021-22 School Year and the district hired Dr. Matthew Friedman to take on the job starting with the 2022-23 School Year. But halfway through the school year, Friedman was secretly job hunting and announced in March of this year he was leaving Ocean City to take a similar job with the Quakertown, Pennsylvania Community School District. Friedman is from Downingtown, Pennsylvania so the job with Quakertown was closer to home for him than family-friendly Jersey Shore town.
With Friedman leaving the district, the Ocean City Board of Education hired Dr. Scott McCartney to be the Interim Superintendent for the first half of the school year while the search continues for the next full-time Superintendent. This scenario means that with the expectation of a new Superintendent starting the job in January 2024, the Ocean City School District will have employed five different people to serve in the role of Superintendent since 2020. Also, that means four different people will potentially make six-figure salaries paid for by the School District in the last four school years, and a fifth individual (McCartney) is projected to make around $33,000 for a job that is technically a temporary position lasting 6 months.
Seems like the Ocean City Board of Education could learn from the Upper Township School District in how they should conduct the transition from old to new full-time Superintendents. While Upper Township hired someone with local ties in the hopes of having that person stay in the job for years to come like their predecessor, Ocean City hired someone with no real connections to the area or school district and it backfired on them. Now the OC Board of Education is being accused of enabling administrators to "double-dip" and not having a transparent hiring process.
There are a lot of parents and taxpayers who have to be wondering what is going on with the Ocean City School District. Along with the almost 200 School Choice slots for Ocean City High School, there are around 900 families that send kids to the High School next to the boardwalk and this bungled situation does not help instill any confidence that the Ocean City Board of Education has the best interests of the community's children in mind with the handling of the Superintendent hiring process.