Familiar face appointed Kearny’s new superintendent of schools

Flora Encarnacao

A veteran Kearny public schools educator has been chosen to lead the district.

The Kearny Board of Education voted Monday night to appoint Flora Encarnacao superintendent of schools, effective July 1, pending negotiation of her salary and employment terms and approval of the interim executive county superintendent of schools.

The board will be looking at a 3-year term of employment for the new appointee, according to Kenneth Lindenfelser, the board attorney.

Encarnacao will replace Patricia Blood, who is retiring June 30 after many years with the district.

Since December 2021, Encarnacao has served as assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction at an annual pay of about $181,000.

More than 20 applicants sought the chief school administrator’s job, according to Blood. Board members initially did a “paper screening” of the candidates, then interviewed multiple applicants over several dates before narrowing the field to two finalists, Blood said.

If all goes as expected, the board would likely complete the formal installation process at its next meeting on June 13 and Encarnacao would assume the position July 1, Blood said.

“I think the board has made an excellent choice,” Blood said of her successor. “Flora has been thoroughly involved in moving the district forward during my tenure as superintendent and I am certain she will continue to lead the district forward in future years.”

Samantha Paris, president of the Kearny Board of Education, said: “Over the last 10 years, Flora and Patty (Blood) have worked side by side to bring this district to where we are today, making significant improvements, and I know Flora will continue the momentum the two of them have built.”

Paris said Encarnacao has been instrumental in “changing the curriculum to fit better with our students,” which has helped the district “make great strides with bring up our testing scores in English Language Arts.”

She also credited the new chief administrator with leading the way to an “expansion of our pre-K program with the grant monies we have received, affording the children an opportunity they didn’t have before.”

Encarnacao joined the district in 2001 as a bilingual/English as a Second Language instructor in grades K to 5, then was assigned to first grade.  She was named instructional coach in 2009 and in 2011 became director of elementary curriculum and instruction and testing.  In 2014, she was appointed director of elementary/secondary instruction and in late 2021 she was elevated to assistant superintendent.

“These are certainly challenging times and it is an exciting time for education as we have learned to deal with a pandemic,” Encarnacao said Tuesday. “But these are moments where we can change the narrative.”

As she settles into her new duties, Encarnacao said she plans to “establish her core team and meet with all of our stakeholders and build on those relationships in new ways.”

She pledged to “continue to strengthen the district’s relationship with our parents and all those who contribute to the education of our students.”

From a labor standpoint, the new superintendent will be the beneficiary of standing agreements with unions and associations representing district employees before having to begin a new round of negotiations with teachers and office professionals whose contracts are scheduled to be renewed in the 2023-2024 school year.

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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