Community responds with surprise, regret over Dr. Alvich’s Nov. 1 departure
By Madeleine Maccar
The Monroe Township School District’s first female superintendent is poised to retire by the end of 2021.
When the Board of Education (BOE) convened at the high school on July 21, impassioned public comment and board conversations covering a range of topics yielded a meeting that went on for more than five hours. During that time, the school and local community sounded off about Dr. Dori Alvich’s retirement, effective Nov. 1.
The announcement drew suspicion, questions and fervent support for the superintendent, with several residents, parents and district alumni itemizing everything Alvich has accomplished since assuming the role July 1, 2019, and registering their surprise that she would voluntarily leave the district less than a year since her contract was extended through 2024.
Others noted a timeline they suggested was more than coincidental. The school board had recently reviewed Alvich’s evaluation, which BOE President Michele Arminio said had been delivered the day after the superintendent announced her retirement purely by happenstance. During the meeting, Arminio also reiterated that Alvich was retiring of her own volition, and not being shown the door, as some residents either implied or outright posited.
District business administrator and board secretary Michael Gorski had previously described Alvich’s impending departure “a catastrophic loss to the district.” While some residents expressed their disapproval of what they saw as an overstatement, others who spoke favorably of the outgoing superintendent voiced their agreement.
Others charted Alvich’s trajectory through the district across her 17 years with the district and credited her for the success she brought to Monroe Township schools, while some were content to simply wish her well. One resident implored the district and BOE to proceed with their search for a new superintendent transparently and with regard to all stakeholders’ input, as “previous board leadership refused to do.”
Gorski responded to one parent’s concerns that Alvich’s departure will further impede the district’s ability to meet previously established deadlines, conceding that he, too, sounded concerned because “this will materially affect the timetable” of current construction projects.
“It’s critical for the board to discuss … the timeline, as preliminary as it is, and how that’s impacted by the superintendent retiring,” he said. “I have been part of this process in the past, where Dr. (Kenneth) Hamilton was engaged in a referendum project, and when he left it wasn’t touched at all by the interim that followed. It was held for the permanent superintendent. … Certainly nobody is more influential in the design of school construction than the chief school administrator, that is a critical element of this.”
Arminio responded that it’s a variable whose impact “remains to be seen,” expressing doubt that a change in leadership is necessarily destined to cause disruptions based on her previous experiences with referendums that not pass.
A video of the meeting can be viewed at monroetv.viebit.com.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18. at Monroe Township High School.
Visit monroe.k12.nj.us for more information.