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School committee hears from assistant superintendent finalist, anticipates Special Town Meeting for Marathon project

by | Jun 23, 2022 | Education, Featured: Education

Jeff LaBroad, a candidate for assistant superintendent for the Hopkinton Public Schools, said he is “beyond ecstatic” at the prospect of joining the district.

LaBroad, currently principal at Josiah Haynes Elementary School in Sudbury, also has experience as a principal and assistant principal in Lexington Public Schools and as a Grade 4 and 5 teacher in Brookline.

He received his master’s in education at Boston College in both educational leadership and curriculum and instruction. Also at BC, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education/communications.

The candidate answered questions from the School Committee during its meeting on Thursday, speaking about his experience working in a district with a population expanding and demographic shifting — similar to Hopkinton.

He said that as communities evolve and grow, core values move “front and center.” LaBroad said at the core of his work is “making sure everyone can come under the tent” and feel welcome.

He said an educator’s job is to “create opportunities for every child to experience every good thing.”

Growing up in Springfield, LaBroad said he wanted to become a teacher since the time he was 4. Before teaching at the elementary school level, he said he was a substitute, an experience he believes everyone should have.

He said joining a district experiencing change and growth would be “really exciting” and a personal and professional challenge.

In response to questions, LaBroad also talked about the concept of focusing on the whole child and individual learning paths. He said students need to learn reading, writing and mathematical thinking as well as how to reason and “take care of each other.”

He also talked about it being OK when students “get what they need, when they need it, and not every student is getting the same thing all the time.”

Along with other topics, LaBroad discussed serving students at every level of achievement, communication between teachers at different grade levels for smooth transitions and engaging parents through personal outreach.

Planning continues for vacancies

In addition to finding a successor for Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Parsons, who is leaving to become superintendent in Plainville, Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh announced that the search has been narrowed to two finalists for the principal position at Hopkinton Middle School. Current Principal Alan Keller is leaving to become the assistant superintendent for Auburn Public Schools.

Although she said the selection process seems “kind of rushed,” Cavanaugh said it is important to have a principal in place to get work done over the summer as well as give the new person a chance to provide notice where he or she is working.

Middle School Assistant Principal Chris Ocampo is departing to become high school assistant principal at Acton-Boxborough. Cavanaugh said the plan is to wait until a principal is chosen before choosing an assistant principal.

Athletic Director Rich Cormier also is leaving, and the superintendent said the high school might use an interim director from in-house, although no decisions have been made.

Finally, the district will also be looking for an assistant principal at Elmwood School because Jason Dimen is departing to become principal of Woodland Elementary School in Weston.

Cavanaugh said the timing of the departures is not unusual because most contracts end on June 30.

Of the search for new administrators, she added, “The work is big and the timing is really unfortunate.”

Special Town Meeting anticipated

In other business, the committee expects to meet with the Select Board on July 12 about the possibility of holding a Special Town Meeting in August. The district is hoping to ask voters to approve funding an additional $850,000 for the Marathon School addition project, with all money to come from the Legacy Farms Fund.

Using that mechanism, taxpayers will not be affected, the superintendent said.

The most recent round of bids had the lowest bidder, Mill City Construction, coming in at $3.9 million. The other bidders ranged from $4 million to $4.7 million, all significantly higher than available funds.

Cost estimators said the reason for the high amounts include fuel prices, increased construction costs, labor shortages and increases in steel, metal deck framing, drywall and other materials.

Although the bids run through Aug. 4, Mill City Construction has agreed to hold its price until the end of August.

If approved, the addition is expected to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2023. Committee members agreed it would be better to move ahead now rather than reject all bids and begin again, feeling the increases would only continue to rise.

Vice Chair Amanda Fargiano asked if a meeting date earlier than July 12 could be scheduled. Chair Nancy Cavanaugh said she would ask about that possibility.

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