Kearny’s newly appointed acting superintendent of schools is poised to take the district forward, even it’s only as a temporary caretaker.
Patricia Blood, born and raised in Kearny, started her educational career in town, teaching English at Kearny High School in 1977. She left in 1986 “to raise four kids” and relocated to Monmouth County but eventually, resumed her education career as a teacher and then assistant principal in the Freehold Regional High School District where she served 14 years.
She returned to the Kearny district in December 2010 as director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12, at a salary of $143,473 a year. She has certification as a school administrator and is, therefore, eligible to serve as superintendent.
Asked if she was surprised by the promotion, Blood said she “was approached by board members prior to the [Jan. 6] meeting” and told about the plan “to put someone in [as acting superintendent] who knew the district and the community until such time as they could complete whatever it is they need to do.”
As of last week, Blood had already moved into the office vacated by ousted Superintendent Frank Ferraro, now on involuntary paid leave, even arranging for custodial staff to replace Ferraro’s desk with her own.
And, in another sign of transition under the new board majority, Gail Landi, who was secretary to interim Superintendent Ron Boland but then shunted to a makeshift, window-less office in Franklin School, was back in the central office.
Last week, Blood sat down with BOE Counsel Kenneth Lindenfelser to review pending legal matters.
And Blood said she was getting up to speed on the “myriad of changes on the state and local level” that local districts were now mandated to follow, such as “how teachers and administrators are to be evaluated, mandated student growth objectives and the pilot for PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers) testing.”
“But we have a good team here and we will work together to move Kearny in a positive direction,” Blood said. “And we are already continuing to move in that direction to increase student achievement.”
During the past two years, she said, “we have developed a new curriculum that is completely aligned to the state’s Common Core standards and we’ve provided teacher training designed to give students a more rigorous academic foundation.”
“Of course,” Blood added, “change doesn’t happen overnight, but when you provide teachers with the right tools, our students will continue to achieve.”
Blood said the district has already “started to see improvements” with a growth in math achievement in grades K to 8 since the “Go Math” curriculum was instituted in the 2012- 2013 school year, as charted by the NJASK (N.J. Assessment of Skills & Knowledge) test.
Another good sign, Blood said, is “the increase in the number of students taking Algebra 1 as a grade 8 elective in the last two years, going from 49 to 111 – which is 25% of our eighth-grade class.”
– Ron Leir