Mt. Laurel BOE names Sharon Vitella as interim superintendent

The Mt. Laurel school district may be losing its superintendent of the past 13 years, but it will have a familiar face stepping into the position on a temporary basis.

At last Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Sharon Vitella, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, was named as the school district’s interim superintendent. She will take over the position upon the retirement of outgoing superintendent Antoinette Rath on Sept. 1 and will remain in the position until a permanent superintendent is seated.

The appointment was the first step for the board in the wake of Rath’s retirement. Rath announced her retirement on July 1 after 13 years with the school district. She will be taking a new job as chief executive officer at Collegium Charter School in Exton, Pa.

Vitella, who has worked in Mt. Laurel schools since 2007, was happy to hear the board wanted her to take over the position.

“I feel very honored and humbled they would choose me to fill the position,” Vitella said.

Vitella said her role as interim superintendent will be to keep the district running as efficiently as it has during Rath’s tenure. She will continue to oversee curriculum, instruction and assessment as she serves as interim superintendent.

The district also passed a resolution to employ the services of the New Jersey School Boards Association to facilitate the search for a new superintendent. Director of communications Marie Reynolds said the NJSBA offers a service assisting boards of education through the entire search process.

The board plans to meet with a facilitator from NJSBA to set search goals and discuss the process moving forward.

Last Tuesday was Rath’s final board meeting as superintendent. During the superintendent’s report, she took the time to thank everyone involved with the school district for the past 13 years, from her fellow administrators, teachers and staff to the students and parents. Without the help of these people, Rath felt the district wouldn’t be what it is today.

“Together, we’ve done well for our students, our staff and our community at large,” she said. “Together, we’ve developed cutting-edge programs that are now considered mainstream in the region, all while being fiscally responsible toward our taxpayers.”

The board of education will continue to update the public on the search process through the summer and fall.

District improves in anti-bullying self-assessment

The Mt. Laurel school district released its grades in the annual anti-bullying self-assessment last Tuesday.

The state Department of Education requires all schools to conduct a self-assessment each year. Schools are graded based on anti-bullying elements such as harassment, intimidation and bullying programs and initiatives, staff training, instruction and more.

Rath said the district’s scores improved overall from last year.

“Our grade improved from last year to this year,” she said. “We went from 91 percent to 92.8 percent.”

Each school can score a maximum of 78 points on the self-assessment. Schools in the Mt. Laurel district finished with an average scored of 73 out of 78 points.

Rath said the high scores are a testament to the policies and programming the school district has in place.

Summer projects update

The school district is moving ahead with going out to bid for the planned solar panel installation project at Hillside and Larchmont schools.

Assistant superintendent for business Robert Wachter said the district is preparing to go to bid with work wrapping up on the new roof for Larchmont.

“The Larchmont roof project is almost 100 percent complete,” he said.

The district is also planning an upgrade of the playground at Larchmont.

“We’re working together with the PTO to enhance that playground,” Wachter said