KENILWORTH, NJ — It’s safe to say that three months ago, no one on the Kenilworth Board of Education had any doubt as to who would be this year’s superintendent, according to Gregg David, the board’s President.
A whirlwind of events has changed that. A surprise exit by superintendent Scott Taylor, coupled with an immediate resignation from his temporary successor, leaves the board turning to Edward Bolcar, a retired chief school administrator, in order to right the ship as Kenilworth’s interim superintendent.
“Mr. Bolcar is an experienced superintendent. He’s served at a number of schools over his career, in many capacities. The most important thing is he has experience unlike, frankly, Dr. Taylor, who won the position last go-around,” said David, who described Bolcar as “well-liked” by the Board. “He now is our interim superintendent, and the board formed a superintendent search committee. That committee continues its work to find the permanent replacement.”
The search for a permanent superintendent, said David, will hopefully line up a replacement by the end of the school year. Ideally, the board wants a superintendent who will be ready to start implementing his vision by 2016. Failing that, though, the district is ready to hire a firm to help as part of their “fallback plan,” said David.
In the meantime, the members of the Board will be working closely with Bolcar, who has previously served as a principal and superintendent in Boonton. Until the middle of August, though, they had expected to be coordinating with Taylor, who resigned to take a position in the Highland Park School District, less than a month before the start of school.
“That caught most of us, if not all of us, off guard, because we had just gone through the process of negotiating a contract with him, for I think a 5-year term. So we knew that we needed to start the search immediately, given the fact that we were a month away from school starting,” said David. “We knew that it would be virtually impossible to find Dr. Taylor’s permanent replacement in a month’s time, especially given the actual timing of it. So, as a board, we decided pretty much right away that we would have to build a path of looking for an interim, and simultaneously go about searching for a permanent replacement.”
The surprise resignation put the board in a tough position, said David, since “legally, the district has to have a chief school administrator in place,” meaning they needed an interim superintendent in just a few weeks’ time.
After interviewing a number of people, though, the board believed it had the right man for the job, in a former Hillside administrator.
“The board interviewed the candidates, and from there, selected Dr. Frank Deo to be our interim superintendent,” said David. “We thought we were all set to go, he thought he was all set to go. He was basically just retiring from the Hillside district. We knew, as a result of that, there was a certain time limit that needed to transpire before he could physically start the job here in Kenilworth.”
But after being on the job for a day or two, it was discovered Deo’s time limit hadn’t fully transpired, after all. Staying on as Kenilworth’s interim superintendent would put Deo’s eligibility for his pension, from the Hillside schools district, at risk. The Board tried to work something out, but ultimately, Deo tendered his resignation effective immediately.
That’s where Bolcar, who had been interviewed by the Board at the same time, came in. After several days of operating without a superintendent, an emergency meeting was held on Wednesday, Oct. 7, where Bolcar was selected as the district’s latest superintendent, on an interim basis.
Bolcar, according to David, was already well-known from the board’s first round of interviews, and they trusted him to come in and provide some much-needed stability.
The new interim superintendent isn’t being expected to drastically change much at the district’s two schools. But in the coming months, while they’re working with Bolcar, members of the Board would like to continue building the reputation of Kenilworth Public Schools.
“Things are not the same as they were when I graduated,” said David, who grew up in Kenilworth. “There’s a perception out there, not necessarily in Kenilworth, but in other communities that we’re just a sports town, a blue collar town, and our goal is to change