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Bodie accepts new contract after 4-3 vote, to retire in 2 years

UPDATED: After offering widely divergent views on the merits of Superintendent Kathy Bodie’s work, the School Committee has voted, 4-3, on a two-year contract. She has accepted it and will retire in two years.

Kathleen BodieBodie

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Because the superintendent had decided to retire in two years, members did not consider the usual three-year contract.

The three members who voted not to give her the two-year contract say they would have agreed to one year. The vote came Thursday, June 13.

The final vote came after the committee could not come to a consensus about renewing the Bodie’s contract last Dec. 18. According to Chair Len Kardon, negotiations continued until the June 13 meeting.

Voting yes

Those committee members voting in the affirmative were Paul Schlichtman, Kirsi Allison-Ampe, Jen Susse and Jeff Thielman.

They praised Bodie’s leadership. Allison-Ampe went further and described it as cooperative and exemplary. Susse thanked her for the quality of the leadership and agreeing to work for two more years to allow for a thorough search for a new superintendent. Thielman singled out her good work on the high school building project.

Schlichtman gave the longest presentation on the merits of a two-year contract for Bodie. He recalled the three superintendents during his 11-year tenure and claimed that Bodie was the best, citing the stability she gave the district. He also argued that the votes for the new high school and the override showed the confidence the town had in her leadership. Moreover, he continued, she has hired “some really good people.”

Voting no

In contrast, member Bill Hayner was highly critical of Bodie’s leadership, as he has been in the past Reading from prepared remarks, he described her leadership as reactive rather than proactive. One example he gave was her resistance in supporting the renovation of the Gibbs to relieve overcrowding at the Ottoson.

Another building project in which he felt she showed poor leadership was the rebuilding of the Thompson School. She supported cutting the school's size by one-third rather than proposing ways to raise money to build the school according to the original plan, which was approved by the Mass. School Building Authority for reimbursement.

The smaller school resulted in overcrowding once construction was finished and cost the town the expense of constructing six additional classrooms without state financial support. Handling the budget, calculating class composition and retaining school librarians were other areas where Hayner cited deficiencies. Therefore, he said he was voting "no" on the two-year contract. He said he would support a one-year contract.

Jane Morgan offered a somewhat different perspective. She described herself as “the most junior, junior member of the School Committee,” which meant she most recently held many coffees and other gatherings for her election campaign.

All of these events gave her extensive contact with the community, and she found that the community “wanted the school department to go in a different direction.” Morgan reported that every group of parents to whom she consulted wanted change. Thus, she said she could not support a two-year contract but would support a one-year.

Kardon comments

Kardon spoke last. First, he described the responsibility of the School Committee -- “hiring and deciding to retain a superintendent is one of the core activities.” The job of the superintendent, he continued, “is odd because your tenure is decided by an elected body.”

Second, he said he was voting "no" on a two-year contract because of the need for new leadership for the district. While not wanting to repeat what others have said are the deficiencies in Bodie’s leadership, he summed up his position as wanting the Arlington School District “to benefit from a more proactive and strategic focus.”

With a roll-call vote, the motion was passed to offer Bodie a two-year contract. 

Contract numbers

While Kardon made clear the details of the negotiations of Bodie’s contract are confidential, the resulting salary increases included in her two-year contract are public:

From July 1, 2019, to 2020, Bodie will receive $202,962 and from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, $207,021.24.

In February 2016, The School Committee voted, 6-1, with Bill Hayner dissenting, to approve a three-year contract through June 2019. The first year, starting July 1, provides a raise to $187,578, from $181,500.

Bodie's comments

Asked by YourArlington to clarify the new contract offer, she wrote June 19: "I have accepted the contract offer from the Committee for another two years. The following day, I notified the district of my intention to retire in two years.

"I would say that I feel privileged and honored to have served the Arlington community and the school district in the role of superintendent for the past 11 years in addition to serving as assistant superintendent and director of mathematics K-12 prior to this role.

"I am very proud of our school district where the focus of teachers, administrators and staff is always on how to best support our students in their growth and learning. I am proud of our students' achievement and accomplishments as well as their participation in community service projects. And, I am grateful to the Arlington community for its steadfast support of the needs of the schools, including all of the building projects needed to house our growing enrollment."

She also cited her statement read to the School Committee on June 13:"

"I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard in the district, on the building committee, on the campaign, as well as everyone who voted to support the high school project -- and the override, which will have a very positive impact on our schools.

"As a result of Tuesday’s vote [June 11], we will now be building a high school that will enhance and support the great work of our teachers and students. The new school will provide them with the environment and opportunities for learning that they do not have now. It is an exciting time and a time of great responsibility to build the best high school for current APS students and the generations of students to come.

"I have been thinking about retirement for awhile, but with the town committed to building the new high school, I am committed to getting the district through the next phase of design development and the first year of construction, so I have asked for a two year extension on my contract, which the SC will discuss tonight.

"Again, thank you to the Arlington community."

Feb. 17, 2016: Bodie contract, raise get 6-1 School Committee OK

This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Jo Anne Preston was published Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Bob Sprague contributed updates to this report.

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