Dr. Mary Thornton was appointed assistant superintendent of on Monday night, replacing Joseph Kraemer, who will take over as the new superintendent of schools. Both appointments are effective on April 1, which is also the retirement date of current superintendent Dr. Kathaleen Fuchs. The board of education approved Thornton’s appointment 7-2, with abstentions from members Robert Feldmann and vice president Matt Millar. Both have relatives who work as teachers in the district.
The move will save the district about $300,000 per year in two salaries and two sets of benefits, according to Kraemer, because neither Thornton’s current position of director of curriculum nor her assistant’s position will be refilled.
The move was not without its share of excitement, however, when Feldmann questioned why it was allowed to happen as it did.
“I mean this as no disrespect to Mr. Kraemer or Dr. Thornton, but who approved this process without it going through the policy and personnel committee,” he asked. “Who authorized Mr. Kraemer to make this move without consulting the board? It seems that things are being done without the whole board being involved in the decision.”
Kraemer responded that the position was posted internally, with two candidates coming forward.
“We had the talent in-house, so it didn’t make sense to go outside,” Kraemer said. “It would have cost us more money to do that.”
Feldmann, who has a daughter that teachers in the district, is barred from voting on anything that would impact his daughter in her position as a teacher.
Thornton has been with the district since 1999. She started out as principal of Cozy Lake and Milton Schools, was promoted to director of elementary education in 2001, and then became director of curriculum and instruction for grades K-12 in 2003.
She has taught in elementary, middle and high school, and has been a principal in Bernardsville, Millburn and Butler.
She has also been an adjunct professor at St. Joseph's College in New York.