, Newburyport, MA

January 8, 2013

Port school chief to retire at year's end

By Lynne Hendricks

---- — NEWBURYPORT – A School Committee focused for most of the school year on the importance of retaining high level administrators learned last night it will be losing another top school leader at years end.

After informing school committee members privately ahead of last night’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Marc Kerble let the public know in open session last night that after three years at the helm of Newburyport Schools, he intends to retire at the end of his contract term in six months time. Coming at the tail end of a conflict that saw Mayor Donna Holaday criticize Kerble’s role in the resignation last year of Assistant Superintendent Deirdre Farrell, and a School Committee fractured over how to handle the fallout, Kerble delivered his message with little reference to the difficulty of the past few months.

“One of the things I always wanted to do was be a superintendent,” said Kerble. “I wanted to be a superintendent when I was 40 years old. It took me a lot longer and I’m a lot wiser.”

Thanking the School Committee for giving him that opportunity, and noting how he’s grown to love the city and staff he’s worked with over the past 2 ½ years, Kerble told the committee he’d be retiring as a superintendent in June, 2013, after 37 years in education.

“I have come to love Newburyport and really have strong feelings to all of the staff that work with me and work for me,” he said. “I am privileged and honored to do that.”

And for the next six months, he promised to give the city his best in upcoming contract negotiations with the Newburyport Teachers Association, and filling top level positions of Finance Director and Special Education Director among other tasks.

“A lot of things are on the table,” he said.

And though he steered clear of the problems that precipitated his departure, Kerble spoke of the conversation he had with Holaday recently, and characterized the meeting as a gracious one. Though he initially told the mayor he would wait two weeks before announcing his decision to the public, he said he rethought things and saw no reason to delay.

“I spoke first to the mayor Thursday night,” he said. “The mayor and I talked – it was quite gracious and she was quite gracious about my agenda and what I wanted to accomplish.”

Lauding the work ethic of Assistant Superintendent Angela Bik, and his assistant Cathy Manning, Kerble yielded the floor to Vice Chair Cheryl Sweeney.

“I just want to say, not on behalf of the committee, but I’ve been with you since the beginning,” said Sweeney. “I think we’ve worked very well together. I appreciate your integrity. I appreciate your work ethic. And I know you will give us the best you have for the next six months. I myself will promise to give that back to you.”

To her thanks, Sweeney added, “It’s been a moving forward three years.”

Kerble is the fourth superintendent to lead Newburyport public schools in the past decade.