Vernon school administrators drop ‘acting’ from titles

VERNON. The Board of Education approves Superintendent Russell Rogers and Assistant Superintendent Rosemary Gebhardt to hold those posts into 2026 and 2023, respectively.

Vernon /
| 06 Jan 2023 | 03:36

The Vernon Township School District’s acting administrators are now more permanent.

The Board of Education on Jan. 4 made Acting Superintendent Russell Rogers the district’s superintendent through June 30, 2026. Acting Assistant Superintendent Rosemary Gebhardt was elevated to that post through June 30, 2023.

Both appointments were approved in 7-0-1 votes. Justin Annunziata, the board’s vice president, abstained. Board member Theresa Scura Coughlin was absent.

Rogers will be paid a prorated annual salary of $198,000, effective Jan. 9.

“I’m humbled and feel a great sense of responsibility as well,” he said. “I hope I could rise to the occasion and meet everyone’s needs and desires across the community.”

Gebhardt will be paid an annual salary of $183,078, prorated starting Jan. 9 and ending June 30.

She said she was honored to work with Rogers, whom she called a wonderful friend.

“We work well together,” she said. “We do have a lot of fun and we laugh a lot. There are times we just really laugh at things, and then we just buckle down and get the job done. We’re looking forward to just really moving forward.”

Board president Kelly Mitchell said she was excited to have Rogers and Gebhardt filling the posts.

Gebhardt is replacing Rogers as assistant superintendent. He replaced former Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay, who retired June 30.

Rogers was elevated to acting superintendent when Superintendent Karen D’Avino retired in September.

“I just want to say we are overjoyed to have you and thank you so much for stepping in in a very crazy temporary type of role, and I can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done,” Mitchell told Rogers. “We’re in great hands having you as our leader.”

Student ID policy

After the board approved a new policy that requires students in grades 4 and above to wear their district-approved identification around their necks, Rogers said the district will roll it out slowly.

An earlier policy required students to present their student ID on demand.

When Colin Geisen, the student representative to the school board, asked when the policy would take effect, Rogers said it won’t be strictly enforced until students are able to receive ID badges that can be worn around their necks.

Mitchell said the new policy is a safety issue, and Rogers echoed that.

“It was a top-priority security concern based on what was presented to us,” he said. “Being able to succinctly map out the security and safety of the students, we realize this is going to take some time.

“But we’re trying to slow-play this so we can provide students with what they need. We’re not enforcing rules when we can’t provide replacement badges.”