Former superintendent will return to Manalapan-Englishtown on interim basis


John J. Marciante Jr., who served as the superintendent of schools in the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District for 14 years until his retirement in June 2021, has been appointed to serve as the district’s acting superintendent from Aug. 1 through Oct. 28.

Marciante will work for the district while his successor as the superintendent of schools, Nicole Santora, is on maternity leave, according to an announcement that was made during the March 15 meeting of the Board of Education.

Santora was named the district’s superintendent when Marciante retired at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.

Voting “yes” on a motion to hire Marciante were board President Brian Graime, Dotty Porcaro, Christine Parisi, David Ferber and David Kane.

Board member Jesse Tossetti voted “no” on the motion.

Board members Gerald Bruno and Ryan Urgo abstained.

According to a contract with Marciante that was included in the meeting agenda, the acting superintendent will work three days per week, except during holiday and school recess periods. Marciante may work two days per week with the permission of the board president.

Notwithstanding those parameters, the acting superintendent will be available, as needed, in emergency situations. Marciante will not receive health benefits from the school district. The rate of pay for the acting superintendent will be $700 per day, according to the contract.

Regarding the action taken by the board, Graime told the News Transcript, “We are thrilled and lucky to have Dr. Marciante fill in for us in Dr. Santora’s absence. There is no better candidate to come in and ‘turn-key’ this for us.

“Dr. Marciante had an exceptional tenure in this district, a district he cares about tremendously. I look forward to working with him again as the board president. We also want to wish Dr. Santora a healthy and safe pregnancy as she prepares for her next steps in life,” Graime said.

* No decision reached on new board member *

In other business on March 15, the board members did not name a successor to John D’Amato of Manalapan, who won election to a three-year term in November 2020, joined the panel in January 2021, served for one year and resigned from the board on Feb. 2.

Because D’Amato was one of Manalapan’s eight representatives on the board, only residents of Manalapan were eligible to seek the appointment. Englishtown has one resident who serves on the nine-member board.

Nine individuals have applied to be appointed to fill the open seat: Michael Levenson, Claudio Alvarez, Jamie Herr, Stacey Einziger, Kelly Lukas, Ryan Green, Max Berent, Jim Gibbons and Christy Minetello.

Green is a former member of the school board, and Einziger and Minetello were candidates for seats on the board in November.

In closed session on March 15, all nine candidates “were interviewed in a very consistent manner, in terms of length of interview and questions asked. We are hopeful to name a replacement for Mr. D’Amato at the April 5 board meeting. If the board can’t reach consensus at that time the decision falls to Les Richens, the executive county superintendent, by statute,” said Veronica Wolf, the school district’s business administrator and board secretary.

In a comment regarding the situation, Graime told the News Transcript, “We spent two hours interviewing and deliberating on nine very qualified and passionate candidates. Unfortunately, we had other board business to attend to (on March 15).

“We will resume our discussions during the April 5 board meeting where we will look to fill this position. It is nice to see the passion and commitment others have for our school district,” the board president said.

In comments made during the meeting, Parisi thanked the nine residents who applied for the appointment and called them “very highly qualified candidates.”

“It is nice to see so many people in our community who are so passionate and want to contribute to our district and make it the best we can,” she said.

The individual who is selected to succeed D’Amato will be appointed to a term that will run through Dec. 31, 2022.

The final year (2023) of the term D’Amato won in November 2020 will be on the November 2022 ballot, along with three three-year terms on the school board.

School board members in New Jersey serve without compensation. The Manalapan-Englishtown regional district consists of eight schools and has a current enrollment of about 5,000 pupils.