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Marlborough choosing new school superintendent

The Marlborough School Committee is set to tap one of three men – retired Puyallup, Wash., superintendent Tony Apostle, New York education consultant Christopher A. Bogden, or Saugus Superintendent Richard P. Langlois – on Saturday to lead the city’s schools.

Final interviews were scheduled for this week, with the candidates also touring the community and meeting members of the public.

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Michelle Bodin-Hettinger, a School Committee member who helped select the finalists, said she is “very excited” about the candidates.

“All three of them have really strong impressive records in improving student achievement,” she said.

The three men were named as finalists on Jan. 17 after an initial pool of 40 to 45 applicants was winnowed down in recent weeks.

Stephen Dlott has been serving as interim superintendent this school year. Anthony Pope resigned as superintendent last July after only two years on the job, following months of drama that featured a no-confidence vote from teachers, an accusation from a guidance counselor that he had shoved her, and assertions from students that they felt disrespected by him.

Pope was preceded by two superintendents who lasted a total of four years in Marlborough.

‘All three of them have really strong impressive records in improving student achievement.’

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Bodin-Hettinger noted that all three finalists have prior experience as superintendents and “long track records of making a commitment and sticking to the commitment over the long haul.

“They’re passionate about helping districts to improve,” she said. “Obviously, there’s no crystal ball. But we are primed and excited and ready to work with a new leader, and we’re letting them know that.”

Apostle retired last year as superintendent in Puyallup after eight years in that position. Previously, he held other administrative posts with the district and served as a principal and assistant principal in other communities in Washington. He holds a doctorate in education from Washington State University.

Bogden served as superintendent of the Hilton Central school district in New York state for seven years, with his tenure ending in 1999. He has held other administrative positions in other districts, and seven years ago he founded an education consultancy. He has a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

Langlois has been superintendent in Saugus for five years. Before that, he was an assistant superintendent in Haverhill, and he has worked in other schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire as a teacher, coach, and administrator. He holds a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Cambridge College.

School Committee member Heidi Matthews said Dlott, the interim superintendent, has begun to foster an atmosphere of trust after last year’s turmoil, and that the new superintendent will need to continue that process.

“Going forward, we want a great communicator that can speak to all levels, and that includes School Committee members, city officials, teachers, parents, and students,” Matthews said. “Somebody that is in touch with what’s going on, somebody who has a vision, somebody who can help anticipate the future of learning, because it is evolving. It’s not like when I went to school.”

Marlborough is in the second year of implementing a five-year strategic plan, which includes an overhaul of the district’s curriculum.

Sally Seay, a parent of a first-grader in the district, said she hopes the new superintendent will “run with” that curriculum, rather than drastically changing it.

“We understand that people will come wanting to make their own changes,” Seay said. She added that while she thought initiatives enacted by Dr. Pope were largely good, “maybe they were just too many, too quick.”

Calvin hennick can be reached at hennick.calvin@gmail.com
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