Christie names monitor for cash-strapped Atlantic City schools; joins emergency city manager

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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — Gov. Chris Christie, a month after appointing an emergency manager to help tame Atlantic City's finances, extended his control over the struggling gambling resort by naming a state monitor for its cash-strapped schools.

The Republican governor's hiring Thursday of Gary McCartney to work with school officials marks his second appointment of a state overseer of government in Atlantic City, which is going through a financial meltdown brought on by the contraction of its casino industry. Last month, Christie hired an emergency manager for Atlantic City's municipal government and added Kevyn Orr, who helped Detroit through its bankruptcy, as the manager's assistant.

McCartney has a six-decade education career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, teaching college courses at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as superintendent of South Brunswick's schools for 10 years, officials said.

State Education Commissioner David Hespe said McCartney has the skills and experience necessary to help Atlantic City's school leaders overcome the challenges confronting them.

"He has an impeccable reputation as a leader who fosters quality and success wherever he goes," Hespe said. "I am confident that Dr. McCartney and the city's school board and school administration will work together to carry out a plan that will ensure the efficient and effective operation of schools with a minimum amount of disruption to students and their families."

McCartney's first tasks are to assess immediate challenges facing the school system and to prepare a balanced budget by July 1.

In recent years, Atlantic City has experienced a significant decline in the assessed value of property for taxation, which has severely hampered its ability to raise money needed for municipal and school services. The value of all taxable property in Atlantic City fell from $20.4 billion in 2010 to $11.3 billion last year.

McCartney's academic credentials include a doctorate in education administration from Temple University, a master's degree from Temple and a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Millersville State University.

His appointment is for one year, but the state education department did not say how much he will be paid. Officials there and in Christie's office did not immediately respond to messages about his salary.

Likewise, the governor's office has declined for weeks to reveal how much Orr will make as special assistant to Kevin Lavin, Atlantic City's emergency manager, who will be paid $135,000 per year.

The governor's office rejected an open public records request from The Associated Press seeking Orr's salary, saying it does not have any documents with that information, and a spokesman for Christie has not responded to multiple requests for Orr's salary or hourly billing rate despite saying on Jan. 28 that the information "will be available shortly."


Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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