By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – Interim Superintendent Thomas A. Baruffi will be sticking around for another year. The Margate City Board of Education Wednesday, Feb. 5 extended his contract through the 2020-2021 school year.
The NJ Department of Education last summer changed its policy, which limited interim superintendents to serving just two years.
“For me, it will be just one more year,” Baruffi said about his third year supervising the Margate schools.
School board President Cathy Horn said the board is still seeking to hire a new superintendent, just not this year.
“We have so much to do this year, including doing our QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum) monitoring report, which is labor intensive, and renewing our teacher contracts. It would be a little scary to bring in a brand new superintendent knowing we have so much going on this year,” she said.
Baruffi previously said it is likely the district will hire its new superintendent in-house.
Horn said the board recently held an executive session to discuss the makeup of the administrative team, discussing each administrator’s strengths and weaknesses and forming an organizational chart for long-term planning.
“We want to make sure when Tom is done, that our district is at the top of its game before passing the responsibilities off to a new superintendent,” Horn said.
The board’s top priority is maintaining its educational programming, she said.
Also on the table is consolidation, not only within the district, but also as a result of pressure from state officials to consolidate districts to save taxpayer dollars.
Although the district is not interested in joining the Ventnor City schools, if drops in enrollment continue, the district could find itself consolidating to one building.
The school district currently has 362 students, down from 562 students 10 years ago.
Baruffi said if the trend continues and enrollment drops to fewer than 300 students, it could spur consolidation to one school.
At $30,327 per student, Margate has one of the highest costs per pupil in the state, which has drawn the ire of senior citizens who want to see costs reduced through consolidation.
To reduce costs, last year, the board accepted a limited number of tuition students. The district currently has five tuition students in the elementary grades.
Baruffi’s contract will become effective after it is reviewed and approved by the Atlantic County Executive Superintendent of Schools.