Although his recent appointment as superintendent of the Berkeley Township school district was not without some controversy, James D. Roselli wants to move forward, not look back.
"I have 100 percent support," Roselli said of the Board of Education. "Everyone has been excellent with me. They have been open to things I've been doing here. I've been able to do my job. We have a strong administrative team."
The 45-year-old Roselli wants to concentrate on the district's future. That includes throwing his full support behind the annual student trip to Stokes State Forest and possibly bringing two Spanish teachers who were laid off and replaced with Rosetta Stone.
"We are moving along," he said. "What's past is past."
And the married father of four plans to be a visible presence in town, not just at Berkeley Township school district events. He oversees four schools - Berkeley Township, Bayville, H&M Potter and the Clara B. Worth schools - and roughly 2,000 students.
"So far I've been in every school, every day," Roselli said. "I've been around to the classrooms. I'll be at the (Central) football game Friday."
He said he is fully behind the Stokes trip.
"It's happening," he said. "Our goal is to get this back to a fifth grade trip. That's probably not going to happen until 2014. Hopefully next year we'll get two trips for fifth and sixth graders."
Roselli was recently notified that the district will receive a $6,000 grant from Exelon Corp. - the owner of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station - for the Stokes program.
"I'm setting up meetings with all PTA presidents to help put this program together, so we are not running fundraisers on top of one another," he added.
A working relationship
Roselli said he also recently met with Central Regional Schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides to discuss using Central Regional High School alumni who went to Stokes when they were younger to help out on next year's trip.
Parlapanides applied for the Berkeley superintendent position early this summer and had offered to do the job for free, along with his Central Regional duties. But he was never interviewed by the consultant hired by the school board to conduct a superintendent search.
The two men went out to lunch shortly after Roselli was appointed.
"Tom and I have always had a good relationship," Roselli said. "We have always worked together. We both have the same goal and that's to work for the kids."
Board members hired Roselli for $148,000 a year and gave him a five-year contract. Roselli is also currently serving as acting director of special services, in addition to his superintendent duties.
Roselli began his career in the Berkeley school district in August 2002, when he became principal of the Clara B. Worth Elementary School. He held that position until until June 2004, when he as appointed as assistant to the superintendent.
He became the first principal of the Berkeley Township Elementary School when the school opened in January of 2005. He held that position until January 2012, when he was appointed Acting Director of Special Services.
Prior to coming to Berkeley, Roselli held several administrative positions - vice principal of the Bloomfield Middle School and Franklin Borough Elementary School. He taught special education in the West Orange, Clifton and Bloomfield school districts for the first eight years of his career.
He received his doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2011. He also holds a master's degree in urban education/administration/supervision and a bachelor's degree in business management from New Jersey City University.
He is also licensed as a chief school administrator, school business administrator, principal, supervisor, teacher of the handicapped and holds a certificate as a national principal mentor.
And along the way he never forgot his first love - baseball. He played center field in college. But when the hoped-for gig with the New York Yankees didn't materialize, Roselli continued with his other dream - teaching.
"Being a major league baseball player was always a goal," he said. "So when the baseball thing ended, I became a teacher. But I still haven't given up on that. I'm still waiting for the Yankees to call."
Roselli is also searching for revenue sources. The district recently opened its Tuition Integrated Preschool Program for four-year-olds, for five days a week, five hours a day. Tuition for the program is $4,000 a year.
"Right now, it's a money maker," Roselli said. "We are coming in right at $70,000. We did not have to add additional staff."
And although a recent demographic study showed that enrollment is on a downward trend, that has not been the case lately, Roselli said.
"People keep registering," he said. "We have yet to see a decrease at this point and time."
School officials are also meeting with an environmental firm to see what can be done to avoid mold growth in the schools in the future. Mold was discovered in the Berkeley Township Elementary School shortly before school opened on Sept. 6.
BTES Principal Kirk Burr discovered the mold on some desks and chairs in first floor classrooms during a routine walk-through before school opened, Roselli said.
The environmental firm cleaned up the mold the day before school opened. The other three elementary schools were also tested. The cost of the clean-up was covered by insurance, he said.
"We had it set up to test all four schools," Roselli said. "We had to wait for them to clear their schedules."
School officials are exploring the possibility of installing dehumidifiers in the schools, he said.