“We’ve had that conversation and now the conversation has to be on moving forward,” said Holaday. “We’ve got a lot going on in the schools. Jim Picone (interim finance director) has been a good addition to the team. I think we’re moving in the right direction with what we’re looking at. We can’t look back anymore.”
That sentiment was echoed by School Committee Steve Cole, who also wished Kerble well.
“He’s worked diligently for the school district,” said Cole. “He especially recognizes the value of educational staff and has upheld that level of high professional respect. I do value my experiences working with Dr. Kerble as well as the knowledge that I have gained from him.”
With Kerble’s departure in 6 months, Cole said, there will be gaps to fill that add to existing ones pertaining to special education and finance. But he said he had faith in the organization to move forward.
“I’m confident we can move forward and close a lot of these gaps,” said Cole. “We do have solid school teachers in our system.”
Other school committee members, like Vice Chair Cheryl Sweeney, expressed sadness over Kerble’s decision to retire, calling his period of tenure in Newburyport a period of moving forward. Veteran member Bruce Menin, who has served on the committee for 12 years, offered the highest praise for the superintendent, whom he credits with making enormous headway in improving school culture.
“What the school system has needed for some time is a cultural change – a change in the way we conduct our business and that takes a lot of time,” said Menin. “It’s like riding shotgun on a glacier or trying to turn an aircraft carrier around. Things move slowly.”
Kerble’s openness, said Menin, was instrumental in improving the working relationship between administration and the Newburyport Teacher’s Association.