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Montgomery School District Superintendent Put on Paid Leave

Superintendent of Schools Nancy H. Gartenberg will begin paid administrative leave beginning May 15.

Following a closed executive session, the Montgomery Township Board of Education voted at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 14 to put the superintendent on paid leave.

Board members did not give a reason.

In April, Gartenberg resigned from her position as superintendent, giving the school district 15 months notice. Her resignation is effective June 30, 2020. Gartenberg wrote in her resignation letter that she wants to "give the school district as much notice as possible to take the time necessary to launch a search process for a new superintendent."

Gartenberg has been superintendent since August 2012. She was initially hired to serve through June 30, 2017. The school board voted to extend her contract by five years in 2015 so that it now ends June 30, 2020.

When the board extended the contract in 2015, they also voted to increase Gartenberg's salary from $167,500 to $182,174. Gartenberg also receives a $5,000 stipend because the district includes a high school, bringing her salary to $187,174 for the 2017-18 school year.

Gartenberg earned $190,917 for the 2018-19 school year. She is to be paid $194,736 for the 2019-20 school year, which would be the final year of her contract.

It is important to note that Gartenberg's contract has a "renewal of employment agreement" stating: "The board shall notify the superintendent, by written notification prior to June 30, 2019, whether this employment agreement shall be renewed."

In other words, the school board has to provide a written notice to the superintendent by the end of June stating whether the board plans to renew her contract.

At the May 14 board meeting, members almost unanimously approved the resolution granting the superintendent "a paid administrative leave of absence in the period that begins May 15 and continuing until some further action by the board." The "yes" votes were cast by school board president Minkyo Chenette and board members Phyllis Bursch, Joanne D. Tonkin, Amy Miller, Jin Patel, Ranjana Rao, Paul Johnson, and Shreesh Tiwari. The lone "abstention" vote was cast by board member Dharmesh Doshi.

The board then unanimously voted to appoint Mary McLoughlin as the acting superintendent while the board finalizes the search for a long-term interim superintendent.

McLoughlin has served as assistant superintendent of schools for Montgomery since November. Previously, she served as director of Pupil Services for Montgomery (from July 2013 to November 2018)

McLoughlin earned a master's degree in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction from New Jersey City University and continues in the doctoral program in Education Leadership at Seton Hall University with an anticipated completion date of May 2019. Her undergraduate degree is from Rutgers University.

Elizabeth Nastus, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Special Projects, will continue in her current role overseeing curriculum and instruction.

In her resignation letter, Gartenberg wrote that she has had "tremendous experiences" in Montgomery, which has consistently ranked as one of the top school districts in New Jersey."I am honored to work with some of the finest teachers and administrators in the country and look back with pride on our accomplishments."

Gartenberg previously served as superintendent in South Hunterdon Regional from 2007 to 2012.

In a letter to parents, the Montgomery School Board wrote: "It is the board’s intention to have the long-term interim superintendent in place as soon as possible. Our search for a permanent superintendent will be a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholder groups. Stay tuned for additional information when that process begins.

"We look forward to working together with the community to continue providing our students with the best possible learning opportunities, maintaining and enhancing what works and collaboratively finding solutions to our challenges."

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