Essex Aggie director resigns

While the search continues for the superintendent/director of the future Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School, the leader of one of the schools merging to form the new school is leaving.

Roger Bourgeois has resigned as superintendent/director of the Essex Agricultural and Technical High School effective March 31 to accept a job as assistant superintendent for the technical/vocational network for the Boston public schools.

The future vocational school, under construction on the Essex Agricultural campus on the Danvers/Middleton line, is being created through a merger of Essex Agricultural School and North Shore Technical High School. Some of Peabody’s vocational programs will also be part of the new school.


Bourgeois’s departure comes as the committee that will govern the future school is preparing to interview the four candidates who applied for the superintendent/director’s job. Daniel O’Connell, superintendent of North Shore Technical, is one of the applicants, but Bourgeois opted not to apply. The names of the other three applicants have not been released.

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“My emotions are really mixed,” Bourgeois said. “I’m very excited about going to Boston. This is an outstanding opportunity. . . . At the same time, I’ve really grown to love Essex Aggie. There are a lot of personal and professional relationships I’ve built and it will be hard to leave those behind.”

Joseph C. Edwards of Haverhill, chairman of the Essex Agricultural board, said he was sorry to see Bourgeois leave.

“He’s done a marvelous job for the Aggie,” Edwards said. “I’m understanding of the fact that he did have other opportunities. Things were coming to an end at the Aggie.”

The Essex Agricultural school board’s personnel subcommittee was scheduled to meet last week to consider options for filling the vacancy until the opening of the new school. The subcommittee will make its recommendations to the full Essex Agricultural board at its March 14 meeting.


Meanwhile, Dean R. Porteous of Beverly, who chairs the future vocational school committee’s personnel policy subcommittee, said a search committee on which he sits could begin interviewing applicants as early as this week. The full committee has set a goal of having a superintendent/director for the new school in place by July 1.

Citing confidentiality, Porteous said he could not disclose the names of the three applicants other than O’Connell, who has publicly confirmed he is a candidate.

Porteous said he is pleased that the committee received four applications, noting that because a special license is needed to be superintendent/director of a vocational school, the pool of potential applicants is relatively small.

He said the job, which has a posted salary of $169,000 to $180,000, is also a weighty one, since whoever is hired will have to oversee a new school, the merger, and a major building project all at one time.

“It’s just an incredible amount of work to be done,” Porteous said.


Malcolm L. Patterson, a member of the Essex Agricultural board and the vice chairman of the future school committee, said he was disappointed to see Bourgeois leave.

‘I’ve really grown to love Essex Aggie. There are a lot of personal and professional relationships I’ve built and it will be hard to leave those behind.’

“We have a year and a half to go before the Essex Agricultural high school is going to be closed,” he said, “and this makes the transition a lot more difficult.”

Patterson last month voiced concerns about the short timetable for the selection and what he said was the personnel subcommittee’s initial proposal to consider just the two existing superintendent/directors. He said this past week that he believed those factors — coupled with the fact that 16 of the 20 members of the committee are from North Shore Technical — may have prompted Bourgeois to explore other job options.

Bourgeois, 57, last week said only that “I was surprised that the committee moved to appoint the superintendent more than a year before the new school opening. . . . This [Boston] job opportunity arose and it seemed the right time and the right fit for me.”

Porteous said the search timetable was dictated by the significant amount of work that needs to be done to prepare for the new school.

“There are a million things that need to get done,” he said.

John Laidler can be reached at