HIGHTSTOWN: Interim superintendent resigns unexpectedly

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
The search is still on to find a permanent superintendent for the East Windsor Regional School District.
“We have just completed our first year without a permanent superintendent and the board is currently in the final phase of our second search round since Dr. (Edward) Forsthoffer left,” said Board of Education President Alice Weisman in an email on Tuesday.
The superintendent search was listed on the board’s Monday night agenda but there was no public discussion only an executive session with “no action to be taken.” Ms. Weisman said, “All (superintendent) candidates are being screened by a board committee and candidates matching our profile are then interviewed by the entire board. Hopefully, we will find the right person in this round.”
As of press time, there was no response to who is on the superintendent search board committee, how many candidates have applied or when the process is expected to be completed.
James Baker was the interim superintendent hired after Dr. Forsthoffer resigned to take the superintendent position at Bordentown Regional School District in July 2014. Dr. Baker did not provide a reason for a resignation and his contract ended June 30. Thomas Gialanella was hired July 1 as the next interim superintendent.
“Mr. Gialanella has extensive educational experience including 40 years in education,” Ms. Weisman said.
He has served as interim superintendent for Toms River and most recently in South Plainfield.
“Prior to serving in interim positions, Mr. Gialanella served as Jackson schools superintendent for over 11 years,” she said. “Mr. Gialanella is an experienced and talented educator leading the district as the board continues its search for a new superintendent.”
The district has advertised extensively in New Jersey newspapers, including the Asbury Park Press, the Trenton Times and the Star Ledger, as well as professional websites for a new superintendent, according to Ms. Weisman.
“Our board, representing the school community, is committed to finding someone who is strongly dedicated to a ‘student first’ philosophy in all decisions,” she said. “Our goal is to hire an educational leader that inspires trust and models high standards of integrity and personal performance.”
In these days of numerous external mandates, she added, it is also critical that the next leader understands the East Windsor Regional School District vision for educational achievement.
“Our vision clearly delineates between curriculum standards and standardization of instruction,” she said. “The board and community expects the new leader to continue the work of challenging our students to reach his or her highest potential.”
She said that this is being done by expanding rigorous academic as well as extracurricular opportunities based on student needs and interests as opposed to limiting their focus to the curriculum documented in the Common Core Standards. 