Montclair Schools Super Alvarez to Resign

UPDATE: For school board reaction, read Barista Kids.

Frank Alvarez, superintendent of Montclair Schools, announced in a letter to parents today that he will step down in June after almost nine years in the district. He did not announce any future plans.

His resignation letter thanked parents, staff and fundraising organizations and cited “narrowing the minority student achievement gap” as the district’s biggest accomplishment.

February 7, 2012

Dear Parents/Guardians/Caregivers:

It is with mixed emotions that I write this letter. After almost nine years of working with you to improve and build on the legacy of the Montclair Public Schools, I am deciding to step down on June 30, 2012.

Montclair is a special place. It is a highly diverse, successfully integrated, high achieving, magnet school district that thrives on creativity and innovation. During the last several years, we have been recognized by federal and state Departments of Education as well as professional associations on the national and state levels for our efforts. We should all take pride in our accomplishments–the remarkable progress around the narrowing of the minority student achievement gap, the return of a significant number of students with disabilities from out-of-district placements to specialized district programs, the standardization of curriculum and assessment benchmarks across the district, the introduction of new programs including the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in grades K-8 and the Mandarin language program for over 600 students in grades K-12, and the strength of our athletic program at Montclair High School. We make things happen and get results!

I am extremely proud of our students. Their achievement, creativity, and confidence consistently amaze me. They are our reason for being.

I am most grateful for the commitment of our staff members, whose day-to-day actions truly make a difference in the lives of students. I am also appreciative for the contributions of the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, the Parent Teacher Associations, the School Action Teams, and the numerous community members and local organizations—all who work tirelessly to create the Montclair story. I am fortunate to have had the support of three mayors and 19 Board of Education members. Finally, I am extremely confident of our all-star administrative team, who will lead the school district into the future as they continue the good work that we have begun.

This is far from the last word. Over the next few months you will hear from me with regard to a transition plan, reflections on our work and hopes for the future.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. What’s the back story here? Doesn’t anybody know?

    My little examined, uniformed impression is that he was a weak super, overly protective of the status quo, not very good in the action department.

  2. @ Roo….. And that gets you 9 years, and how much severance??

    I don’t trust folks who write or say things like this: “…truly make a difference in the lives of students.” (I won’t comment on the “all-star administrative team”).

    I remember the good old days of leadership.

    Here’s hoping the new Super will have vision, communication skills and the fortitude to do what’s right.

    (…hahahah sometimes I make myself laugh…)

  3. The destruction of the Washington Street YMCA Building was an irreplaceable loss for Montclair and for American History. Goodbye.

  4. Backstory? The high school has not met “Adequate Yearly Progress” 4 years in a row now. One more year and NCLB requires complete restructuring of a failing school.

  5. What was the number $11mm that miraculously appeared? Someone had to have a little egg on their face. Roo hits it above.

  6. OMG Liz, don’t give them any ideas!! I couldn’t take “Coffee and Nursing with the Super”!

    Frank you are so right – unforgivable.

    Prof, how about you throw your hat into the ring? I bet you would be great in that job!!

  7. “The destruction of the Washington Street YMCA Building was an irreplaceable loss for Montclair and for American History.”

    Not to mention, our pocketbooks.

  8. “irreplaceable loss for Montclair and American History”- are you kidding? A decrepit building with no obvious benefit to the community- the replacement is much improved. Oh but you probably never used the old building did you? The decision to tear it down must have been part of a much larger conspiracy to improve (modernize) Montclair.

  9. No “seriously”, I TOTALLY disagree with you. The Montclair Board of Ed gets an “F” in respecting History and the Community. The new building is a totally waste of money and there was no obvious benefit to the community. What a horrible waste. Its a cheap and ugly building.

  10. Frank GG is correct. The new school building is ugly. And in terms of student population, it was really not needed. Where the BOE and Council at the time did wrong was in deceiving everyone over the costs of this new school.

    They first announced residents would only pay 10% of the total and further, that we’d get a new pool and gym in the process. When that cover story fell apart — even if the community still decided to proceed – the BOE did not even attempt to incorporate and renovate the now owned Y there so that Montclair at least gained a community center for teens and seniors.

    Watch…at some point in the near future the Township will pay double for such a center which we could have earlier had with a bit of smart planning and municipal coordination from that 2000-2008 era BOE’s.

    Given this “political” accounting, the newly found $11 million budget discrepancy…the previous field and capital construction overages and problems for everything built – it would appear that a more fiscally conscious management was going to be in order. Watch for Dana Sullivan — head of the business office there — to eventually follow.

  11. The use of the term “irreplaceable loss for…American History” above is a typical bit of overheated Baristanet posting. And come on, frankgg, you really had to capitalize “history” there? We weren’t exactly talking an ancient megalithic circle or even a Frank Lloyd Wright house (although the ones I’ve visited always seem so cramped and dark when one actually sets foot in them). This was just a building in bloody Montclair!

    And that is whatever one makes of Frank Alvarez’s tenure os schools super. I am curious to hear from parents such as walleroo with students in Montclair’s system as to whether the guy was any good.

  12. It is not a surprise, really, that Alvarez would move on. At a time when the average tenure for a schools super in NJ is about 2 years, to have remained in his post for 9 years in a town as politically charged as Montclair is either a tribute to his own political skills or to the apathy of the “stakeholders” who could have agitated to move him on. Either way, with the super cap passed and the money to be made as an interim superintendent or consultant, who can blame him for heading out the door?

    I have no direct experience with him, so I can’t speak to his effectiveness. From what I observed and heard, he seemed rather weak to me, and certainly focused on things like Mandarin, etc. while much bigger fish remained unfried (sorry, Mr. Mayor). Good luck in attracting people to Montclair to replace him, though. It was a tough sell even before the salary cap. Now, well…..

    I do not support prof as super, but I DO propose that he head up the search committee. I know for certain that none of his favored candidates will have beards, nor will any of them be “foreign” language teachers!

  13. I believe in what I said Cathar….and I disagree with you. TOTALLY.

    Its about time that an investigation be conducted on the Washington Street School Project and whoever was pushing it.

    The then president of the Montclair NAACP set up a meeting with me and other conserned citizens regarding the Washington Street YMCA. THERE WAS NO MEETING. Alvarez was not in his office.

  14. Frank – how could I forget? The reason there was so little, or no push back from the 4th ward on the loss of the Y had a few motivations at the time.

    First, some politically powerful people – reportedly former Councilor Audrey Fletcher and civic leader Wally Chase, had an economic interest in the school construction project. They were reported members of an LLC whose land the new school was being built on. So they apparently helped lobby and shut down potential opposition. I remember Audrey at a BOE hearing passionately advocating for the importance of building this new school with Chase at her side in the audience. Interestingly, once the land was sold, Fletcher, then Director of Head Start (privately owned Montclair Child Dev. Center Inc.) reportedly retired and moved to Florida.

    Second, for some long-time African Americans, I have heard that the Washington Street Y was seen more as a symbol of Montclair’s racist past. Therefore it was not a monument to be salvaged for many. That’s despite Quae Mattox’s articulate defense on the Watercooler at the time to keep the building as being important for local African-American history.

    Compared to the later concern over the falling down 18th century slave house on Claremont Avenue, the c. 1900 “African-American” Y was only a blip for 4th ward community passion. It appears the above were the likely factors.

  15. Thank you for remembering Martin. I am not surprised to hear that people packed up and moved to Florida once this deal started moving forward. Who will investigate this? Are there concerned citizens? Isn’t there a “Montclair Watch” or some organization to handle an investigation regarding the possibilities of economic interests?

    The Washington Street Y was CLEARLY a historically important building despite people’s feelings about its local racist past. Instead, it was a monument to the FIGHT AGAINST RACISM. It was the second such African American organization in the US, created and embraced by some of the most important figures in American history. Mrs. Hortence Tate had Langston Hughes and W. E. Dubois come to read poetry and teach Montclair children. Booker T. Washington as well as other historic figures lectured there during the Harlem Renaissance period. All of this history, the 1926 time capsule and photographs wound up thrown in a dumpster.
    They even plowed over families graves from the once was cemetery on the site. These were the graves of families who apparently couldn’t afford the move to Mt Hebron Cemetery in 1926. This is how a Township protects its citizens….it just plows over their graves, exposing bones and coffins if they don’t have money?

    https://www.baristanetnew.wpengine.com/2007/09/montclairs-archeology-magnet/

    Here is some of photos pulled out of the dumpster. I wonder where the 1926 Time Capsule is?

    https://www.baristanetnew.wpengine.com/?s=naacp+motions&x=9&y=5

    When there was the risk of demolition, I reached out to politically powerful local people who assured me that the forefathers would be so proud to sacrifice their YMCA for the building of a new school (WHAT BS) and they became intransigent and shut down any potential opposition. This blind intransigence also spread to the Montclair NAACP organization and the local government who took sides in fear mongering and supporting the Board of Education race to build a new school. (That we didn’t need)

    It doesn’t surprise me to hear that …. “ I remember Audrey at a BOE hearing passionately advocating for the importance of building this new school with Chase at her side in the audience. Interestingly, once the land was sold, Fletcher, then Director of Head Start (privately owned Montclair Child Dev. Center Inc.) reportedly retired and moved to Florida… 
Compared to the later concern over the falling down 18th century slave house on Claremont Avenue, the c. 1900 “African-American” Y was only a blip for 4th ward community passion. It appears the above were the likely factors.

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