2011-02-16 / Front Page

New super gets busy in Edison

O’Malley says district has ingredients to be best in state

Edison Superintendent of Schools Richard O’Malley, who began in the top job on Feb. 7, talks to students at Edison High School on Feb. 14. 
KATHY CHANG Edison Superintendent of Schools Richard O’Malley, who began in the top job on Feb. 7, talks to students at Edison High School on Feb. 14. KATHY CHANG There’s plenty of “doom and gloom” when it comes to the school budget these days.

However, new Edison Township Superintendent of Schools Richard O’Malley likes to take a more positive approach to the matter.

“We will make do with what we have and what we are given,” he said.

O’Malley is settling into his new position in the top office of New Jersey’s fifth largest school district, with roughly 14,529 students. He officially began serving on Feb. 7, becoming Edison’s first permanent superintendent since 2007. And so far, many of his days have been dominated by meetings and school visits.

“This week has been fantastic,” he said with a smile as he sat down with Greater Media Newspapers on Feb. 11. “I have visited most of the schools; I believe I have two more to go.”

In November, after a long and at times contentious search process, the Board of Education selected O’Malley, 40, of Flemington, as its new superintendent. O’Malley most recently served as superintendent in the Matawan/Aberdeen School District in Monmouth County.

Ronald Bolandi served as interim superintendent from July 1 until O’Malley took over. Before Bolandi, John DiMuzio had been serving as acting superintendent since November 2007, when the board voted to place then-Superintendent Carol Toth on paid administrative leave. The board continued to pay her salary of $178,000 through last June while DiMuzio was making $177,480 as acting superintendent.

O’Malley’s contract will run through July 2015 and he will receive an annual salary of $210,000. He will be eligible for annual raises of up to 2 percent until his contract expires. The contract also calls for a performance evaluation to be conducted every year, and O’Malley may receive annual performance bonuses of up to 2 percent for achievements such as passing school budgets or bond referendums.

O’Malley said he is committed to working with the teachers, school leaders, staff, community members and the board to continue the implementation of “Best Practices” and to accelerate the district’s progress so that “we make Edison the best school district in the state of New Jersey.”

“That is the goal,” he said.

The district is forming a cohesive educational plan with the involvement of all stakeholders, while also implementing new technology in the curriculum and increasing professional development offerings for teachers.

O’Malley noted that the district is lacking in 21st-century technology.

“We want to bring in Smartboards, document cameras, computers, and the use of iPads in eighth-grade algebra classes and ELL [English language learners] and ESL [English as a second language] classes,” he said. O’Malley said he recently read that schools in California have piloted a program through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. using iPads in eighth-grade algebra classes.

“Iwant to be the first district in New Jersey to pilot the program,” he said. “Also, we need to work on rewriting curriculum, and bring textbooks up to date … it is critical for 21st-century learners.”

O’Malley said a videographer has been hired to revamp the district’s television station. He said officials are also working on rearranging the district’s website to make it more userfriendly.

“This is an exciting time to be part of the Edison School District,” he said. “I truly believe thatwe have all the ingredients to make this the top district in the state and in the country.”

O’Malley noted that there are plans to enhance the use of libraries in the schools and provide more Advanced Placement courses at John P. Stevens High School, with the creation of a new wing with a technology lab concentrating on the new classes. The wing is expected to open on March 1.

The superintendent said public forums will be held in the next few weeks as the district forms the cohesive educational plan.

“I intend to be very visible and actively engaged in the district,” he said.

O’Malley said he has spoken to state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18th District) on education, noting that she has been a big advocate for school districts. He said he planned to meet with Mayor Antonia Ricigliano this week to discuss how the township and school district can work together in these hard economic times.

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