Stafford Hires New School Business Administrator

Sep 19, 2018
Photo by: Supplied photo FROM NEXT TOWN: Lourdes LaGuardia starts Dec. 11 as school district business administrator in Stafford Township, the job she held six years in Barnegat Township.

With all the Stafford Township School District has had to deal with during the past month regarding mold issues in its buildings, one major thing that didn’t get lost in the shuffle was the hiring of a new business administrator to replace Dan Smith, who is scheduled to leave the district next week. The Stafford Board of Education officially hired Lourdes LaGuardia, the Barnegat Township School District business administrator for the past six years, to be Smith’s successor during a special meeting on Sept. 11. The Stafford board voted unanimously to bring in LaGuardia, a township resident.

“Lourdes has been a business administrator since 2002, so she is somebody with a lot of experience, and her knowledge and skills are going to be outstanding for our district,” said Superintendent George Chidiac, who had worked with LaGuardia for a brief period in the Barnegat district before his arrival in Stafford. “She’s a great business administrator, but her biggest strengths are with facilities, buildings and grounds.”

Prior to her time in Barnegat, LaGuardia served as business administrator in Mullica Township and Ocean Gate. But besides a long history in business administrator roles, an added benefit to bringing in LaGuardia is the fact she is a Stafford resident and is well aware of what’s been going on in the district during recent years.

“During the interview process, she knew exactly what has happened here, and we felt she could hit the ground running,” Chidiac said. “She understands what’s going on in Stafford and what our needs are as a district. She has a vested interest in what we’re doing and really wants to be a part of the district.”

Due to a 90-day departure clause in her contract with the Barnegat district, LaGuardia is tentatively scheduled to arrive in the Stafford district on Dec. 11.

In the meantime, John Parades – a seasoned professional with 25 years of experience who retired after a stint with the Colts Neck district – will fill in as business administrator in Stafford. However, the board initially approved a temporary business administrator through Nov. 2, and Parades may not be able to commit for a longer period, which means the board may have to hire another interim business administrator.

“John was approved on Sept. 5 and has been working alongside Dan the past couple of weeks as we prepare for the transition once Dan leaves us on Sept. 26,” Chidiac said. “We really like John, and if he can stay with us until December we’d love to have him until Lourdes can come on board. But, pending his decision to stay past Nov. 2, we may have to hire another interim business administrator for a month.”

As for the ongoing issue with mold in specific parts of the five district buildings, Chidiac reported that as of Monday all McKinley School students were back in their classrooms, and he is awaiting the results of testing on the Intermediate, Ocean Acres, Primary Learning Center and Oxycocus classrooms that have been sealed off since the beginning of last week. He said he hoped to have those results sometime Tuesday, and students will return to those classrooms as clearance is given by the district hygienist, Cathy Ledden.

“If the tests come back that we’re clear of the mold and we can use those classrooms, the students will return to them and we will proceed as normal,” Chidiac said. “Hopefully, all our students will be back in their regular classrooms by Wednesday or Thursday.”

— David Biggy

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