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Board of Ed: 2 Finalists for Interim Superintendent Role

O'Neill's retirement unanimously approved, board eyes replacement.

Superintendent Jim O'Neill's retirement became official Monday night when the board unanimously approved his resignation, effective July 1.

The board has a list of names of people willing to serve as interim superintendent from the New Jersey School Board Association and the New Jersey Principals And Supervisors Association and narrowed the list down to a few names.

"We talked to four [people], we interviewed three, we have two finalists," Board Vice President Tom Belding said.

Belding said the board wants to have one more year to prepare for the position to be permanently filled. "We think we have a very good internal candidate for the long term," Belding said.

The internal candidate is Michael LaSusa, a former co-principal at Chatham High School who was moved to the position of assistant superintendent in 2010. "The primary function of the interim superintendent would be to mentor our internal candidate," Board President Steve Barna said.

Barna expressed "deep regret" at O'Neill's departure. "Clearly this is something that I did not expect ... a year ago. We were in position to move forward, extending Mr. O'Neill's contract and ran into the buzz saw called Gov. Chris Christie and some of his initiatives," Barna said.

O'Neill said he was grateful for his time in Chatham working with "skilled, talented and dedicated people."

"If I had a chance to start my own school district, I can't think of six people [from Chatham] that I wouldn't want," he said.

O'Neill had announced an intention to run for a seat in the state legislature in the 26th district, which Chatham Borough, where O'Neill resides, was a part of until redistricting was finalized last week. As a result of the realignment, the borough was moved to the 21st district, which already had a full slate of Democratic candidates. O'Neill did not file to run by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline.

The board had a meeting scheduled for April 25, but decided to cancel it, making Monday night's session the final one before the school board elections on April 27.

Barna and Belding said that the board may decide in the upcoming weeks to meet on April 25 for the purpose of discussing an interim superintendent. 

Duncan Munchkin April 12, 2011 at 03:43 PM
"If I had a chance to start my own school district, I can't think of six people [from Chatham] that I wouldn't want," he (O'Neill) said. Can't think of six you wouldn't want?? But you can think of five you wouldn't want? Why not just say you'd take all but about five...and then name them. :) No wonder our test scores are diving.
Ted Peterson April 12, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Wow, I don't know what town YOU live in but in the Chathams the test scores have not been diving they have been rising! Do some reserch....the high school has some of the best scores in the county.
John Bennett April 14, 2011 at 06:12 PM
Ted, you're right Chatham's test scores have been rising but the bigger mystery here is what do Jim's comments have to do with test scores anyway???Duncan Munchkin must be having a sugar rush...

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