Board hopes for stability with new superintendent

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Gerard Dalton was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Brick Township Public Schools. He is expected to start on July 1.

BRICK TOWNSHIP — With the appointment of a new superintendent, the board of education aims to bring stability to a school district that has had four superintendents since 2015.

“This ends a long and difficult process to finally appoint a new superintendent,” Stephanie Wohlrab, president of the board, said.

“The intent of the board through this process is to find a candidate that is committed to improving the educational experience of our students and bring stability to the district’s leadership. This is the first step to achieve that goal.”

At the board’s meeting on Thursday, April 12, members voted to appoint Gerard Dalton, assistant superintendent for pupil services and planning at West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, to the top job in the Brick Township School District.

The district has been without a long-term superintendent since Walter Uszenski was suspended in 2015 after being charged by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office with concocting a plot to obtain special education and transportation services for his grandchild, among other charges which were ultimately dismissed.

Since then, the role had been filled by an acting superintendent. With the exception of board member John Lamela, who abstained from the vote, all members on the dais voted to appoint Mr. Dalton to a four-year contract. He will start on July 1, replacing Acting Superintendent Dennis Filippone-.

The new superintendent is expected to make $190,000 in his first year with the district. Over the four years of the contract, that amount is expected to increase every year to $193,145 in the 2019-2020 school year, $196,343 in the 2020-2021 school year and $196,684 in the 2021 and 2022 school year.

According to Ms. Wohlrab, the district was impressed by Mr. Dalton’s references as well as his vision.

“He was dynamic in the interview, his qualifications, his ideas, his concepts that we discussed with him were right in line with how we as a board would like to see Brick move forward,” she said.

A graduate of Kearny High School, Mr. Dalton has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership and administration from Saint Peter’s University. He has been a teacher, and principal, at several school districts throughout the state, including at Newark Public Schools, Warren Township Schools, Chester Township Schools, Lebanon Borough School, Clinton Township School and the Clinton Township School District before going on to West Windsor-Plainsboro.

There, he spent three years as a middle school principal and nearly five years as an assistant superintendent.

Mr. Dalton said he was “humbled” to join the district. In an interview later that night, he acknowledged there will have to be some adjustment period.

“I have already worked with the board on a transition plan so I think in the first six months or so to a year is working on the transition and the transition is building relationships and building my knowledge of the district,” Mr. Dalton said.

“I can’t jump into making recommendations or anything without building relationships and knowledge.”

According to officials, they have tremendous faith in the new hire.

“I think if you have a candidate that you have faith in, that if you believe going through the process that they are the right person to drive the district forward and if you could tie him up for a year longer, tie him up for a year longer,” Mr. Filippone said.

According to Ben Montegro, the board attorney, “by law the statute is a minimum three-year contract, maximum five-year.”

Comparing the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District to the Brick Township School District, the two are quite similar.

There are 12 schools in the district, with 10 schools in West Windsor-Plainsboro. According to information from the New Jersey Department of Education, for the 2017-2018 school year the district had 8,633 students compared to the 9,692 students at West Windsor.

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.