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School Board Selects Interim Superintendent For Princeton Schools

Candace Braun

The Princeton Regional School Board voted 5 to 4 in favor of hiring Dr. Richard Marasco as interim superintendent for the district once Dr. Claire Sheff Kohn leaves her post at the end of July.

The Board considered two candidates for the position, said School Board President Anne Burns. The other candidate was an unnamed woman who is currently employed as a superintendent, she said.

"The decision for interim superintendent was a difficult one ... We had two excellent candidates," she said, preferring not to name which Board members voted for Dr. Marasco at the May 25 closed session Board meeting.

Ms. Burns said that she has confidence in the decision made by the Board, as Dr. Marasco has a variety of experiences that he will bring to the district.

"We're excited he's able to join us," she said.

Dr. Marasco previously served as interim superintendent for Princeton from April 1999 to January 2000.

Ms. Burns said while the Board deliberated over its decision for more than an hour, the majority wanted someone they had worked with in the past. The other candidate did not have experience as an interim superintendent.

"It came down to [choosing] who some of us had worked with, and had experience with as an interim," said the Board president.

Dr. Marasco will be paid $750 per day. He will officially assume his position on August 2, although he may come in for a number of days in July for transitional purposes, according to the district's website.

Retired since 1994, Dr. Marasco served as superintendent for the Monroe Township School District in Middlesex County for 19 years. He said he is looking forward to working in Princeton again.

"It was a good experience last time, and I'm looking forward to helping [Princeton] get through construction," he said.

Dr. Marasco described the experience of dealing with construction as "comfortable and familiar." He said that he went through periods of construction in both the high school and elementary schools in Monroe Township during his superintendency.

Dr. Marasco has served as interim superintendent for school districts in Berkley Township and Manchester Township, both located in Ocean County. Before retirement he also briefly served as a faculty member at Monmouth University.

He is currently a consultant with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, running a program for principals in training.

"I've been more busy over the last nine or 10 years since I've retired," he said.

The Search Continues

Ever since Dr. Kohn formally announced in March that she would be leaving Princeton for a position in the Masconomet School District in Massachusetts, the Board has been diligently working to find a permanent replacement. It recently hired the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates, Ltd. to help with the process.

The School Board met with the search firm May 27 to start the process of looking for a new superintendent.

"It was a great meeting," said Ms. Burns, who said discussions with the firm lasted for more than two hours.

A tentative schedule was set for the search firm, which included developing 32 focus groups that will meet on June 9 and 10 to come up with key elements that the district should look for in a new superintendent.

The district will be sending out invitations this week to various school and community organizations that they would like to see take part in the focus groups. A report from each focus group will be expected by the end of June, said Ms. Burns.

"We're hoping [the search firm] will start recruiting candidates after the July 4th weekend," she added.

The Board plans to hold interviews with semifinalists the second week of September, and select one of the candidates by October 15.

The district expects to have the new superintendent start by January.

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