2010-07-29 / Schools

Millstone hires interim head of school district

Temporary superintendent says he understands budget issues, managing an arts center
BY JANE MEGGITT Correspondent

MILLSTONE — The recently appointed interim superintendent for the school district says he took the job because he wanted to give back to the community.

Millstone Superintendent of Schools Mary Anne Donahue will officially retire at the end of August. John Szabo will begin working for the district at a salary of $600 per day commencing Aug. 1. He said he expects to work as needed in August and to report to work every day once school starts. However, he hopes to only have to work a few days a week by November.

Szabo retired as superintendent of the Robbinsville Public School District in 2009, and in the past year he taught expository writing in the undergraduate program at Rutgers University and served as an adjunct professor at Kean University.

The Manalapan resident said he is very familiar with Millstone and its schools. The Millstone Township School District has some of the same concerns as Robbinsville, where he served as superintendent for four years, he said.

The Millstone school budget has failed at the polls 10 out of the past 13 years. Szabo said school budgets passed in Robbinsville the first and final years that he served as superintendent, but failed in his third year by a few votes. When asked what he would do to try to get a budget passed in Millstone, he said he’d show voters that the district is fiscally responsible and doing everything it can to keep costs down while providing a strong academic program.

“We have to get taxpayers to realize we are providing a strong program, and they are getting good value,” he said.

Szabo said he would try to avoid cutting academic programs as much as possible.

“We know Millstone has a strong, enviable academic record,” he said.

Szabo said he plans to meet with Donahue to learn about her current duties. She has worn many hats in her role as superintendent, some of which are not generally held by those in that position, including supervising the Millstone Performing Arts Center at the middle school. Szabo said that is an area in which he has experience, since Robbinsville also has a performing arts center. He did note that Donahue has a broader background in special education issues than he does.

At this point, Szabo said he has no idea how long he will be the interim superintendent, but he expects to be in the position for several months. The Board of Education has discussed the possibility of sharing a superintendent with the Upper Freehold Regional School District. Szabo said the board would continue to look at sharing services with surrounding districts.

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