Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Superintendent to Switch Districts

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Superintendent to Switch Districts

Article excerpt

On the night the Paramus school board was set to discuss whether to renew district Superintendent Kenneth Rota's contract, the administrator announced he will not return to the district.

About half an hour later, Fort Lee school officials announced Rota will become that district's new schools chief, starting July 1.

Rota's employment status has been a topic of discussion for months. In December, the Paramus school board voted, 5-4, during a special meeting not to renew his contract, which expires in June. The board rescinded that vote two weeks ago after parents urged trustees to reconsider.

Trustees were to have another discussion about whether to extend Rota's contract on Monday. Instead, Rota told a room full of parents at the start of the meeting that he would not return, prompting a standing ovation from his supporters.

Nine miles away, Fort Lee school board President David Sarnoff praised his district's next superintendent.

"The board believes that he is the right person -- with the right skills set, experience, temperament -- for our district, for our community," Sarnoff said.

"We think he's the person who's going to lead our district into the future," he later added.

Details of Rota's anticipated five-year contract, including his salary, were not made available because the agreement still must be approved by the executive county superintendent of schools, Sarnoff said. The board is expected to approve the contract after it's been signed off by the county superintendent, who is the state's liaison to local districts.

"We believe that all the terms of the contract are appropriate," the board president said.

Rota's current base salary as head of the Paramus district, which has an enrollment of about 4,000 students, is $167,500 per year. Fort Lee services about 3,900 students, according to district information.

The longtime educator was one of 19 applicants for the Fort Lee position, according to trustee Esther Han Silver, a member of the board's ad hoc search committee. Seven applicants were interviewed by the board before it made its decision, she said.

Sarnoff said that Rota stood out, adding he "has an excellent reputation as an educator and administrator. …

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