SAYREVILLE – The Sayreville Board of Education has renewed the contract of the district’s Superintendent of Schools for four years.
On June 13, the board voted 5-3 to renew the contract of Superintendent Richard Labbe from July 1 through June 30, 2018.
Board President Kevin Ciak and board members Beth DePinto, Anthony Esposito, Michael Macagnone and John Walsh voted yes on renewing Labbe’s contract. Board Vice President Phyllis Batko and board members Daniel Balka and Thomas Biesiada voted no. Board member Lucy Bloom was absent.
According to district administrators, Labbe will receive a salary of $196,584 for 2017-18; $200,516 for 2018-19; $204,526 for 2019-20; and $208,617 for 2020-21.
The board’s action is subject to the approval of Yasmin Hernandez-Manno, interim Executive County Superintendent of Middlesex.
Prior to the board’s vote, Ciak gave background on Labbe’s tenure as superintendent and his planned reappointment. He initially joined the district in 2014.
“In making the determination to renew our Superintendent of Schools, the board basically looked for when we hired Dr. Labbe three years ago, an individual who was going to lead change in the district and provide a new level of energy and educational expertise within the district,” Ciak said. “And in the last three years under his leadership, we found that.
“When you look at the programs that we’ve brought into the district in terms of special education and the changes that we’ve driven there,” Ciak said. “The savings [of] those changes as a result of bringing so many students who previously were receiving education outside of the district into the district, which is not only a better opportunity to serve those students, but also an opportunity for us to reduce our costs to serve those students.
“When you look at the changes he’s implemented in terms of the effective school solutions program at the high school, which deals with students who have challenges adapting to a high school environment and enables them to have a better chance at succeeding and graduating from the district. When you look at the curricular program that he’s been able to lead and implement, we felt that Dr. Labbe is leading the type of change that we want an educational leader of the district to be leading over the next four years.”
Ciak noted that Labbe’s tenure had not been without difficulties.
“We do acknowledge the changes that occurred over the last three years have certainly not been neither without hiccup nor without pain,” the board president said. “And that’s been an incredible journey that our staff has undertaken together with Dr. Labbe and with the Board of Education.
“We do feel that we are turning a corner here. A lot of that pain is now behind us and that we’re going to be able to build upon the changes that we’ve been able to put in place a lot more slower, a lot more methodical and with a lot more buy-in from the staff in order to continue moving forward,” Ciak said. “And the board has made that indication known to Dr. Labbe that’s our preference and that’s the way we want to move forward.”
The board president correctly predicted that the vote to renew Labbe’s contract would not be unanimous.
“This is not a decision that most likely will be voted on unanimously by the board,” Ciak said. “I think when you look at leadership today, you probably don’t find any leader that’s driving change that’s going to see unanimous support. And when I look at the makeup of the board and when I listen to the passion of board members speak about Dr. Labbe, I basically see in the board the same type of demographic that I see in the people [who] I talk to in the school district.
“Some people think that he is the most phenomenal leader that you will ever find and we can’t possibly afford to let him go. Some people think that he should leave. And others think that he’s doing a phenomenal job and he’s got some things he needs to work on, just like all of us do. And I think that demographic you see on the board is representative of the demographic you see within the school district as a whole. But the majority of the board does have faith in Dr. Labbe’s abilities.”
In addition to reappointing Labbe, the board reappointed the district’s current administrators for the 2017-18 school year: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Marilyn Shediak at a salary of $166,549; Business Administrator / Board Secretary Erin Hill at a salary of $141,750; Director of Food Services Michele Jenkins at a salary of $97,049; Director of Facilities and Operations James Kolmansperger at a salary of $84,000; and Transportation Coordinator Christine Vastano at a salary of $68,250.
The board also appointed Eric Glock-Molloy to the position of assistant superintendent of information technology and operations at a salary of $140,000; David Knaster to the position of director of pupil-special services at a prorated salary of $138,820; and Dawn Cherry to the position of assistant business administrator at a prorated salary of $75,000; all for 2017-18.
As with the vote on Labbe’s contract, Batko, Balka and Biesiada voted against reappointing Shediak and Jenkins for 2017-18. Balka also voted against appointing Knaster.
Ciak, DePinto, Esposito, Macagnone and Walsh voted in favor of all administrative appointments. The remaining administrative appointments and reappointments were approved unanimously by the board.
Contact Matthew Sockol at email@example.com.