MARGATE — Assistant business administrator Jennifer Germana was chosen to replace business administrator and school board Secretary Susan Palaia, who retired this month.
Germana has been Palaia’s assistant for the last five years. As administrator, she will earn $90,000 a year, which is $16,000 less than Palaia made.
“We made a good team,” Palaia said. “Because we are a smaller district, we had to depend on each other.”
MARGATE – She’s worked for 27 different board members, three superintendents and 8 principals during her 21-year tenure as the Margate school district business administrator. On Aug 16, Susan Palaia, who also serves as school board secretary, made a “tough decision” and announced that she will retire at the end of December. The Board of Education unanimously approved her request with regret.
Palaia said she and Germana shared a lot of the duties, and she is confident the district is in good hands.
“In a small district, you have to do everything,” Germana said. “I have had a hand in all facets of the administration of the business end of the district, and I learned a lot working alongside Susan."
Germana, 42, of Egg Harbor Township, said she has more time now that her twins are ready to venture out on their own.
“This is great timing for me. Now that they are 18 and ready for college, I have more time and energy to devote to the job,” she said.
Germana, who is married to Tom Germana, also has three grown stepchildren and four grandchildren.
When her children were growing up, she worked full-time while going to to college, first graduating from Atlantic Cape Community College with an associate degree in accounting and then getting a master’s degree in educational leadership and school business administration from Edison University in June 2016.
“I knew Susan would be retiring and wanted to prepare for it, so I got my master’s degree in 18 months by taking two classes per semester,” she said.
Her mentor was Terri Weeks, who is the business administrator for the Linwood school district and for the Longport Board of Education.
"Terri was very helpful too," she said.
MARGATE — After several weeks of consideration, the Board of Education has selected an employee health insurance plan that provides “equal to or better than” coverage for employees.
Germana worked in the automotive industry for about five years, starting in the service department and working her way up to senior auditor, and then began working in the business office at Atlantic Christian School.
“I was promoted to business administrator. I made my switch to public schools when my children were ready to go to school. I thought there would be more opportunity here,” she said.
Germana said there will be changes in staffing to accommodate her moving up to Palaia’s position.
The assistant administrator post will go unfilled, and two part-time employees will become full-time. One will be child study team secretary and handle accounts payable, while the other will cover payroll and transportation.
“They will take on a lot of my job responsibilities,” Germana said.
The application process for the post included interviews with the superintendent, board president and other administrators.
“I had to do a presentation on the Affordable Care Act and how changes being made can hurt the district,” she said.
Germana said the biggest advantage she has is that she knows the district.
MARGATE — Eugene A. Tighe Middle School has earned recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
“It’s not like I’m walking in blind. I know the budget, helped to prepare it, know the facilities people, and I won’t have to find my way through it. People here are very supportive of each other,” she said.
Germana said she is looking forward to leading the district through planned facilities projects at the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School, including replacing rooftop heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units, replacing windows at the William H. Ross School, and formulating a new budget for the 2018-2019 school year.