Fife chooses veteran educator for open Board of Ed seat in Harrison

From left, Harrison Mayor James A. Fife, new BOE trustee Fred Confessore and current board trustee Art Pettigrew. Photo courtesy of Fred Confessore

A former longtime educator/administrator has been named to the Harrison Board of Education to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Carol Mandaglio.

Mayor James A. Fife appointed Fred Confessore, a onetime district superintendent of schools whose career with the Harrison school system spanned more than four decades, to the school board, effective March 17.

Weve had a number of former (Harrison) educators serve on the board, Fife said. They have a good feel for whats going on in the district.

He mentioned, as examples, Anthony Comprelli, another ex-superintendent; Vincent Franco, who was curriculum director; and the late James Geiger, elementary school vice principal. Fife, a former board member himself, was principal of Harrison High School.

James Doran, the districts director of personnel, recalled having worked with Confessore when the latter was a district administrator and said: Im happy to have him back.

Confessore, who just turned 70, said he accepted the mayors offer to return to scholastic service because, Ive lived in Harrison all my life and Ive always liked to be involved with our schools. Even through Ive been retired several years, I still miss the kids and the employees.

Confessore, who has a daughter attending elementary school in the district, spent more than 43 years as a school employee, including nine years as a teacher, six years as Lincoln School principal and two years as Washington Middle School principal before being elevated to assistant superintendent and the balance of his time as, initially, acting, then permanent superintendent.

After leaving the districts employ, Confessore was a volunteer basketball coach at the high school for a few years while operating a new restaurant venture in town.

Asked what areas hed like to focus on, from the perspective of a school board member, Confessore said, Ive always had a particular interest in (school) facilities, in keeping them updated, and technology. Energymanagement issues also interest me and I believe the board will be looking to installing LED lighting as part of energy upgrades at our schools.

Additionally, Confessore said, hed like to press for upgrading some of our older school buildings but these days, its so expensive, so well see.

He attended his first board meeting on March 17, St. Patricks Day, the same day he was sworn in, and so maybe the luck of the Irish will follow Confessore as he proceeds on his new path.

Harrison remains one of the few districts in Jersey with an appointed school board.

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Ron Leir | For The Observer

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.

He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.

He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York