Saying "it seems like the right time to go," Bernards School Superintendent Valerie Goger announced at Monday's Board of Education meeting that she will retire at the end of this school year. Goger's last day with the district will be June 30, after holding the position since 1998.
Assistant Superintendent Regina Rudolph, hired by Goger 13 years ago, also will retire at that time, it was announced at the meeting.
Before looking outside the school system for replacements, the district will advertise within its current staff to see if there are any candidates seeking to fill Goger's position as top administrator in a district with more than 5,600 students, according to Susan Carlsson, school board president.
"The board hires the superintendent, the superintendent hires the assistant superintendent," she explained. The first step in the board's search for a new superintendent will be to post the position "in-house" for the next two weeks, Carlsson said on Monday.
As head of the board's personnel committee, Carlsson said she had known for about a month about the intended retirements.
But other board members had just learned of the announced retirements in a closed personnel session prior to Monday's public meeting at the William Annin Middle School, she said.
Goger had that would have carried her time in her position into 2014. Her salary for this year was just over $200,000, or more than $217,000 with almost $15,000 in "givebacks" on certain contractural items.
In a separate contract last year, Rudolph's salary was increased from $177,915 to $181,473 for this school year.
The announcement on Monday apparently came as a surprise for those members of the public in the audience.
"I am so shocked, I can't even say anything to Dr. Goger and Reggie," parent Michelle Coppola said. But later in the meeting, she said she was "devastated" to hear about the planned departure of the two administrators.
"I am not sure what we are going to do without you, and you too, Reggie," she said. "You do everything under the sun." Others, including Carlsson, also offered praise for the administrators.
Goger also had a surprise that night.
Her husband, Barry Vankat, presented her with roses during the public portion of the meeting. He described his wife's decision as "very difficult," but one that was "very informed" for the district, himself and his family. The couple lives in the township, he said.
Goger said she had come to the district as a business administrator in 1995. Following the meeting, Goger was asked what she felt was among her most memorable or significant accomplishments in her role as superintendent.
"My most difficult and rewarding day was Sept. 11, 2001," the superintendent said. Just last month, Goger spoke on video about the events of that day, which included the almost instant rallying of staff to deal with an unprecedented situation. A key part of the response was deciding how to properly inform and guarantee a safe trip home for children whose parents might have been working in New York City, in a community where about 20 residents lost their lives in that day's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Click to read Superintendent Goger's
Click to read Assistant Superintendent Regina Rudolph's