New District Superintendent Looks Back at His First Year

By Eric Englund | Jul 03, 2019

Barnegat — At this time last year, Brian Latwis was settling in as the Barnegat Township School District superintendent, replacing Karen Wood. He moved up from being the district’s special education director, a job he had assumed in the fall of 2015. At the time, Latwis said that coming to Barnegat was the “best decision of my professional career,” and a year at the helm hasn’t changed that feeling.

“To be successful as a superintendent, you need a very dedicated and cooperative administrative team, teachers and staff,” he said. “When the superintendent’s job became open, I became very interested in applying for it because I wanted a chance to lead this district.”

He holds a doctorate in education leadership from Rowan University. Latwis also has a bachelor’s degree from New Jersey City University and a master’s degree from Georgian Court University.

Latwis said he also wants to make himself visible to the “many stakeholders in the community.”

“I’ve met and talked to people from the senior developments,” he said. “Of course, there will be many parents and the school-related groups. It’s important for me to be accessible and listen to everyone’s concerns.”

That aspect of the job surfaced over the winter, when he announced a proposed reconfiguration plan. Among numerous changes, it would result in the four elementary schools housing two grades each rather than continuing as K-5 buildings. The plan called for Cecil S. Collins School to house pre-K and kindergarten. The Joseph T. Donohue School would be home for first and second grades. Third- and fourth-graders would attend the Lillian M. Dunfee School, while the Robert Horbelt School would house grades five and six. The Russell O. Brackman Middle School would house grades seven and eight instead of the current six through eight, becoming a junior high.

Latwis met fierce resistance to the proposal when he held a public forum on it in March.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “It shows that the parents really care, and they asked a lot of questions.”

Latwis was looking to implement the plan for this coming September, but decided to hold off and form a district improvement panel, which he said has broken into several subcommittees. The group consists of parents, staff members and administrators.

“We’re not going to have a timetable on implementing the plan,” he said. “We’re going to do this step by step, and hopefully when we’re through, we’ll come up with a plan that is fair to everyone.”

He added, “I think one of our successes was that we got our pre-K program up and running in six weeks.”

So like last summer, he’ll be working to get everything in order before school starts in September.

“I look forward to it,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll keep moving in the right direction and make it a district of which we can all be proud.”

Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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