The times they are a-changin’. A Board Of Education (BOE) with new faces, a new president, a new teacher’s contract (finally), and now a new superintendent. His name is Pedro Garrido. Mr. Garrido comes to the Roselle Park School District from a small town in Bergen County named Guttenberg.
Before the announcement was made in June there were rumblings and whispers and complaints about who would be given the position. People wanted principals or other staff from in-district, the RPEA (Teachers Union) wanted to be part of the vetting process; former BOE members wanted former employees of the school district to come back; but still everyone was cautious – as they should be.
The School Superintendent, by definition, works on behalf of the Board Of Education and simply offers advise, suggestions, or recommendations. In practice, the superintendent is the liaison between the BOE, administrators, faculty, parents, vendors, contractors, and even students. He (or she) is the head of the school district and more often than not, the BOE will follow the advice and recommendations of the Superintendent. It is equivalent to being mayor in a weak-mayor, strong-council style of municipal government.
So there is a lot of expectations from those who want change as well as those who want the status quo. Pedro Garrido is from Cuba and with a school district where an ever growing population is Spanish speaking, he is the face of the future or – more aptly put – the present of Roselle Park.
There are those who will complain that, in their estimation, there were other better qualified people or that cultural background should not be part of the discussion because, in the end, we are all Roselle Park. But saying those things does not make the very real underlying tensions between an ever-changing demographic go away.
Roselle Park has changed. Answering if it is for the better or the worse is left up to the individual. What is refreshing is that Mr. Garrido – who should be taken for more than being Cuban or Spanish-speaking or even a man – is someone with a different set of eyes from another district, another county, with an altogether different (yet similar) background.
In the end he, hopefully, cares about the education of all Roselle Park’s children and understands that the appreciation for and inclusiveness of our growing diversity can only make us stronger. It is not by saying “We are all the same and I don’t care if you’re white black brown blue or purple” but by saying “We all have something to bring to the table and our diversity can only enhance our future.”
Will there be missteps? To be certain there will be since every new direction encounters bumps corrections. But hopefully everyone can gauge his performance on asking the question, “Is this good for the students of Roselle Park?”
Because in the end, past all the BOE elections, contract negotiations, bills, vendors, calendar committees, and policy decisions, it is the education of children that is the objective of every BOE and superintendent.