Top of their class

Last two candidates for superintendent make their case

Two New Jersey assistant superintendents are vying to become the next head of the Hoboken public schools.
Dr. Gayle Griffin, a curriculum specialist from the Newark school district, and Dr. Frank Romano, an operational specialist from the Ft. Lee school district, spoke before a small crowd of parents, educators, and local officials on Tuesday at the Hoboken High School auditorium.
Both candidates fielded questions from moderator Susan McCluskey, a representative from the NJ School Boards Association who has been working with the board on their search since ex-Superintendent Jack Raslowsky resigned last summer. McCluskey’s husband, volunteering his services for the night, collected over 40 index cards with questions from the audience.
The board will vote for the new superintendent at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9.


The board will vote for the new superintendent at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Several parents, who were outnumbered at the public forum by district employees, complained about the poor turnout.
Some parents took it as implicit support of the “reform”-friendly school board, who will make the final decision. But critics of the board said the poor turnout was because they believed the board had already made up its mind, only holding the forum as a formality.

The candidates

Many parents and educators in the audience thought both Griffin and Romano were both qualified candidates.
Griffin spoke about her experience with programs like the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, an advanced international learning program at Hoboken High School.
Griffin said test scores are her highest priority. In order to improve scores, Griffin said she will begin to “track and monitor” progress before standardized test scores come out, using “walkthrough” assessments: classroom audits where administrators observe teachers and students.
Romano stressed his collaborative approach to education and his interest in integrating technology in the classroom. “Technology engages kids,” he said, especially assistive technology that can be used to help special needs children.
Romano admitted to having “neurotic standards of excellence for myself” and a desire to motivate others for excellence.
Hoboken High School’s principal is set to retire in March. The candidates were asked which quality they’d like to see in a new principal.
“I would not like to see a high school principal who likes [staying in] his or her office,” said Romano, adding he hopes the district finds a principal that is “not afraid of data.”
Romano stressed his number-crunching approach to solving district problems and his ability to unite different groups for a common goal.
When asked how she will change the culture of the district, Griffin said it’s not easy.
She likened the situation to jazz bars – she loves the genre – that were previously filled with smoke, an unfriendly situation for someone who suffers from asthma like Griffin.
But the change to smoke-free bars was one on which many people had to collaborate.
“If we decide we want to come together as a community to change something, we can do it,” she said.
Engaging all sides in the conversation is the first step, she said.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at

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