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Rockville Centre selects New Jersey administrator as new superintendent

June Chang will assume his new post July

June Chang will assume his new post July 1 as superintendent of the Rockville Centre district following William Johnson's retirement. Credit: TAPinto Summit/Greg Elliott

A veteran New Jersey school administrator will succeed William Johnson, superintendent of the Rockville Centre district and one of Long Island’s leading educational innovators, board trustees said.

June Chang, currently schools chief in suburban Summit, New Jersey, will take over for Johnson, who in August declared his intent to retire at the end of this academic year, after 40 years in Rockville Centre. Johnson, one of the longest-serving superintendents in the Nassau-Suffolk region, also held the post of president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents from 2001 to 2002.

Chang  will be introduced Wednesday at a 7:30 p.m. work session of Rockville Centre's board, and will assume his post July 1 following Johnson's retirement, according to a district news release. 

The new superintendent's contract with Rockville Centre is being finalized, the district said.

Chang's annual salary in Summit was $233,533, according to TAPinto Nutley, an online news service in New Jersey. New York State Education Department records list Johnson's annual salary as $348,231.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to embrace and build upon the history of independent leadership, outstanding student focus and outcomes," Chang said in a prepared statement. "My wife and I are elated to be welcomed into the Rockville Centre school community."

Chang has served as superintendent of the highly ranked, 4,000-student Summit district since 2015, having previously worked as a teacher and administrator in four other New Jersey systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from Rutgers University, a master's degree in education from St. Peter's University in Jersey City and an MBA from Columbia Business School. 

Summit's senior high school ranked 24th academically among high schools in New Jersey and 493rd among schools nationally in the 2019 ratings of U.S. News & World Report. 

Johnson, in a phone interview, said his decision to retire after 34 years as schools chief in the 3,600-student Rockville Centre system, which also scores well in national rankings, did not come easily. 

"You know, it's very difficult, because I love the work, and I always have," he said. "But at the end of the day, I think it's time to turn it over to someone else."

As superintendent, Johnson was the first on Long Island to bring International Baccalaureate studies into his district. The IB curriculum program, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, provides high school students with a comprehensive set of college-level courses. 

Since its introduction in Rockville Centre, the IB program has expanded to high schools in nine additional districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties, including Locust Valley, North Shore, Commack and Northport-East Northport.

While an advocate of high academic expectations in general, Johnson was outspoken in criticizing what he described as New York State's misuse of standardized testing based on national Common Core standards. In 2013, Rockville Centre's South Side Middle School became the first on the Island to experience a large-scale boycott of state tests by local families. 

In recent months, Johnson was widely reported to be under consideration for the post of interim state education commissioner. In December, the job went to Shannon Tahoe, who previously served as the agency's chief counsel. 

Rockville Centre described its search for a new chief executive as a painstaking process that included the hiring of a professional recruiting firm, as well as interviews with school and community personnel, parents and students, and written survey answers from community residents.

Chang was chosen from a pool of 50 candidates, district representatives said.

Tara Hackett, president of Rockville Centre's board, called Chang's unanimous selection "a testament to the deliberate process of community engagement for the next generation of leadership in our district."

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