SHSD hires interim superintendent to finish out the 2022-23 school year


Jane Holmes

front of Bernards High school in the spring of 2022

Sydney Kaul, Editor-in-Chief

Following Dr. Dempsey’s announcement of her leave, Dr. Monica Browne of HIYA and her team have been leading a search for candidates. As Dr. Dempsey’s leave date is quickly approaching, the Board of Education (BOE) has hired an interim superintendent who will begin on February 1st, 2023. Filling the position from February to June, 2023, is Dr. Lydia Furnari.

The Board of Education worked with HIYA associates, who play a major role in the hiring process for the board. They interviewed all board members to see the type of leader and candidate they needed. HIYA associates then interviewed various focus groups, ranging from student leadership, teachers, and community hall. These interviews allowed the BOE and HIYA to collect substantial data to determine the type of candidates they were trying to reach, and with that, they began advertising. Dr. Furnari was one of of many approved interim superintendents who provided a resume. She was one of only two who then received an interview. 

According to Mrs. Jinnee DeMarco, “The Board and associates felt that she was the most capable. She has a lot of experience that is helpful for us. We are coming into the budget process, and Dr. Furnari has experienced working with budgets.”

Dr. Furnari has worked in various districts in different capacities, and has gained a substantial amount of experience and expertise. She “stood out amongst other candidates”, according to Mrs. DeMarco. 

Dr. Furnari received a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in supervision and administration from Montclair State University. She achieved a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Prior to her upcoming position at SHSD, she has held various administrative positions across neighboring counties. Dr. Furnari is currently the Interim Superintendent at Verona Public Schools, and has been there for one year and three months. 

As interim superintendent, Dr. Furnari begins her position in the SHSD district on February 1, 2023, following Dr. Dempsey’s leave. Dr. Dempsey’s contract had a 150-day release notice, meaning that she works 150 days after her notice. With this time period, “there would not be enough time for the Board to hire a permanent replacement. We do not want to rush something like this.”, Mrs. DeMarco shares.

Dr. Furnari will work until June, when her contract ends on June 30th, 2023. Following that, a permanent superintendent is planned to begin working in September of 2023. 

The BOE is hoping to find a permanent superintendent by March, so it can be included in the March agenda. The new BOE committee will be chosen by the end of January, so further decisions will be held off until the new committee is selected and settled. This new committee will be voting for the new superintendent. 

As interim superintendent, Dr. Furnari carries the same responsibilities and duties as Dr. Dempsey, or any other permanent superintendent. While her style of approaching matters and work may differ from Dr. Dempsey’s, at the core, her role is the same. 

Dr. Furnari, and any other interim superintendent, are here for unforeseen events. A school district cannot have an interim superintendent for more than two years, so Dr. Furnari will be fulfilling the role until the BOE and HIYA associates can adequately find a qualified candidate.