New superintendent, referendum on the horizon in Nutley



The Nutley public school district will be losing its chief school administrator when the school year ends in June.

Schools Superintendent Russell Lazovick has accepted an offer from the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District to become its superintendent, effective July 1.

He’s getting a five-year contract, with a salary of $177,500, based on the state cap guidelines, according to a posting by the Somerset County-based school district on its website.

Lazovick will be heading up a district nearly twice as big as Nutley’s, with an enrollment listed at 7,927 spread among seven primary schools, one middle school, two intermediate schools and one high school.

“We are honored to have Russ join Bridgewater-Raritan,” said Board of Education President Ann Marie Mead. “Mr. Lazovick is perfectly suited to refine our goals and make Bridgewater-Raritan a ‘Best in Class’ district.”

Lazovick is studying for his doctorate in educational leadership at Rowan University. He has a B.A. degree in international relations with a concentration in international business and economics and an M.A. in teaching with a concentration in English. Both degrees are from Boston University.

Charles Kucinski, president of the Nutley Board of Education, told The Observer that Lazovick’s contract “was not up until June 30 and we were ready and willing to renew it. Russ has been with us five productive years.”

But the superintendent recently informed the board, Kucinski said, that pressing family needs dictated that he accept the job offer since it is so close to his residence in Bridgewater.

“You can literally see the place where he’ll be working from where he lives,” Kucinski said. “It’s only seven minutes from his house.”

Kucinski said the Nutley board members are “very upset he’s leaving, especially since nowadays if you can get [a superintendent] to stay five years – like Russ did with us – you’re lucky.”

Kucinski credited Lazovick with bringing all-day kindergarten to the Nutley district. “Also, he got us through PARCC (the state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers) assessment and training and he did a lot with technology for us.”

In a posting on the district website, members of the Nutley school board issued a joint statement saying, in part, that when it hired Lazovick in 2011, “the district was at a crossroad, and needed an infusion of new ideas and direction, and with the support of the Board of Education, Mr. Lazovick redirected the district academically, financially and set the foundation for our future success.”

The board was scheduled to meet in special session Feb. 1 to discuss the process for finding a replacement for Lazovick and Kocinski said he anticipated that process would involve retaining a consultant and the appointment of a search committee.

Meanwhile, Kocinski said, the board will also be attending to the business of relieving overcrowding at its elementary schools.

He said the township, acting on behalf of the district, has acquired commercial property, about 65-by-350 square feet, encompassing a bicycle shop and upholstery store with apartments above, along Franklin Ave. where the district hopes to build an addition to its Middle School.

The plan is “to pick up sixth grade and combine that with our seventh and eighth grades now at our Middle School,” Kucinski said. Additionally, the Board of Education offices – currently on the lower level of the Middle School – would be converted to classroom space, he added.
“We’d be taking at least three [sixth-grade] classrooms out of every grammar school – and, I believe, one school has four sections of sixth grade,” said Kucinski, thereby freeing up space for other students in those schools.

For the addition, he said, “we’d be looking at three, maybe four, stories, with an elevator.”

An arrangement for how the property would be transferred to the district has yet to be worked out, he said. “We’re hoping the town will give it to us for nothing.”

How much the new building will cost is another unknown at this point, Kucinski said. “We’ll be going out for a referendum [to seek public backing for the project], probably by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.”

Kucinski said he expected to have more specifics on the project “within a couple of weeks.”

This is desperately needed by the district to accommodate consistently expanding enrollment, he said. “Our population has been growing quite a bit with new people coming into our town and they’re coming with children so our grammar schools have just exploded.”


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