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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Bedford picks acting school chief

LAMBERTVILLE - The Bedford Board of Education last night appointed a longtime district official to serve as acting superintendent for most, if not all, of the next year.

Jon White, who has been with the district for more than 36 years, including the last eight years as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will officially take Bedford's reins effective July 1.

Earlier this spring, a majority of board members voted not to renew the contract of Jim Goebel, who has served as the district's superintendent for the last three years.

"We do face significant challenges now and in the months and years to come - the financial bind the state has put us in, No Child Left Behind, contract negotiations," Mr. White said. "I encourage us to open a dialogue, and to work together to overcome these challenges."

Whether Mr. White will receive any additional compensation for taking the new position was not discussed or decided last night. He will begin the transition process this morning, district officials said.

Over the last two weeks, the board members approved two plans that instructed district administrators to lay off up to 19 certified staff members as of July 1.

Last night, board members were told that 11 of those teachers have been called back and will be employed next year. The fate of the remaining eight will rest largely on the number of elementary school students who attend the district next year, said Wes Berger, Bedford's assistant superintendent for human resources.

The district is anticipating an enrollment drop of about 100 students, he said.

"I have always believed that the final number will reflect between zero and four teachers laid off," Mr. Berger said. "Our kindergarten numbers are down. Our elementary population is shifting. We don't know where people are going to end up here yet, and our teaching staff is going to follow where the kids end up."

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