Mainland and Linwood Superintendent Tom Baruffi announces retirement

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Linwood and Mainland Superintendent Tom Baruffi Linwood and Mainland Superintendent Tom Baruffi  LINWOOD -Tom Baruffi, the superintendent of both Mainland Regional High School and the Linwood School District, will retire at the end of the school year.  The popular superintendent said while he has made it no secret that he is leaving, he is not celebrating either because he really has enjoyed his job. 

Baruffi, 53, joined the Linwood School District in 1999 as the principal of the Seaview School.  In January 2001 he took over the helm of the district when long time superintendent Ralph Schiavo retired.  He signed a five-year contract and entered into the shared superintendent's job in 2009.

It was a bold experiment in shared services and shared expenses. Baruffi's $190,000 salary was divided 60 percent, 40 percent between Mainland and Linwood. He said that over the course of the five years of the shared agreement the two districts saved about $740,000 in salary and benefit costs.  And while Baruffi admits that is a significant savings, he is advising the respective boards of education not to pursue the shared arrangement.

 "With all of the new regulations coming from the state such as New Jersey Achieve, the new teacher assessment and new testing; the volume of work that needs to be done really requires someone to be here," said Baruffi.  And while he was quick to laud the team of administrators at both schools, ultimately as the superintendent he has to have the pulse of what is happening.

Baruffi said the salary cap that will go into effect in 2015 also made him think about his retirement. "When I took this position there was no salary cap in place. I would stand to lose a significant amount of money if I were to continue."

The new salary cap is based on student population. The enrolment in the Linwood School District is about 875 and Mainland is around 1,400 those numbers combined would cap Baruffi's salary at $140,000. He would get another $10,000 for entering into a shared agreement with both districts. That would mean his income would take a $40,000 slash in order to stay with both districts. 

"I have been blessed to work with some of the most dedicated people and quality people on the boards of education here at Mainland and of course in Linwood.  They have been great but when you work with two separate boards, two separate budgets, twice the number of administrators and groups, it is a lot," said Baruffi. He was quick to acknowledge that making the connection between Linwood and Mainland is tailor made to work. The schools are both in Linwood and are almost across the street from one another.  If the shared superintendent is going to work, this is the scenario that it will work in, and Baruffi said it has worked but it has challenges.

When Baruffi arrived at Mainland he was involved in the push to pass the $40 million bond referendum. That referendum passed and part of the challenge of the next few years was to see all that work to completion. The superintendent said he was very proud of how the school managed to do major renovations while remaining open, missing very few days because of the construction. 

Baruffi said now that the work is done he feels it has really renewed a lot of pride in Mainland.

He also spoke about the tragedy that changed life for everyone at the high school when an accident on the Garden State Parkway claimed the lives of four football players. Baruffi said the traumatic experience brought the school and the community closer together because it forced everyone to realize how precious every day is.

From those dark days there have been incredible exciting days as well like when Mainland won the "Undeniable Challenge" from Under Armour, he said. "Again, it brought the whole community together, everyone wanted to help and wanted to be a part of it. We really were undeniable and I think all three communities felt that way," said Baruffi.

Originally from Vineland, Baruffi is a graduate of the University of Delaware. He earned two masters degrees from Rowan University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Baruffi and his wife Kathy have three children and live in Egg Harbor Township.

So what is next for Baruffi at the end of June? He is not sure yet and said he will weigh his options before making any decisions.

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