Dr. Walter Uszenski will begin his career in Brick July 1, a month earlier than first expected.
Uszenski was at the township Board of Education meeting Thursday night where board members unanimously approved a four-year contract that solidified his hiring.
Uszenski, 60, a township resident, said in an interview before the meeting that he will engage both members of the local community as well as district staff when he begins in Brick.
"We're going to raise the bar and raise the standards," Uszenski, who began his career in education as a math and special education teacher, said.
On his first day at work, Uszenski said, he'll meet with Board of Education members and speak with all of the district's administrators one-on-one. Then, he'll begin putting a plan in place to bring more cohesiveness to the district.
"I'm going to work very closely with all of the administrators to create a true professional learning community," said Uszenski, explaining that his strategy will utilize a team approach, creating data-driven assessment teams at every school to keep track of progress. He'll also create "superintendent's councils" of both teachers and parents to keep abreast of concerns.
"My vision for the district is one simple word: excellence," he said.
Uszenski also said he'll host focus groups at each of the township's schools once he takes the helm of the district, so he can speak with parents in the evening to hear their concerns and suggestions.
Also, he said, there are plans to bulk up advanced placement courses at the high school level. In Spotswood, where he currently serves as superintendent, there are 20 AP classes offered, and many are taught by teachers who are paid a stipend to teach an extra class, rather than hiring extra staff and paying additional salaries.
"If you have a teacher that is willing to teach an extra period, it's a big savings to the taxpayers and the board," Uszenski said.
Board President Sharon Kight said she's confident Uszenski is the right person for the job.
"I believe we've made the perfect choice, especially knowing he's a resident and is vested in the community," said Kight. "When we listened to what the community wanted … that was one of the things that they said. They wanted somebody who they are going to see in town."
"I like to be visible and I like to be out there," Uszenski said.
"As a taxpayer living in Brick, I want our schools to shine, and we will."
Uszenski will earn $175,000 per year as superintendent, according to his contract. He will be paid an additional stipend of $2,500 because the Brick district includes a high school.