School Supt. Mary Bourque announced this week that she will retire from the Chelsea Public Schools within the coming year, an announcement that few expected outside of Bourque’s inner circle.
Bourque met with the Human Resources Subcommittee of the School Committee on Thursday night, Dec. 20, and informed them of her decision to retire in December 2019.
“I am giving the School Committee 12 months’ notice to give them time to unify around a process to look for and support the next superintendent,” she wrote. “As for me, I will continue over the next 12 months to advocate, champion, and innovate for all our students, families, and staff. I will continue to build the systems that will outlive all of us. Together, we will continue to have Chelsea’s presence known and heard at the State House advocating for equal access, opportunities, social justice, and adequate funding. We will as Chelsea educators continue to be known and highly respected.”
The news traveled fast throughout the community, and many praised the job Bourque has done over the last seven years as superintendent.
“Mary has done an amazing job and her position is not easy,” said Council President Damali Vidot. “Every year she has to do more with less resources. Chelsea has been going through a lot of changes and with her retirement, it’s an opportunity to get another person who has some connection to Chelsea or has a connection to the demographics of the school system. It’s a very hard job.”
Bourque didn’t elaborate on what her post-retirement plans are, but even after having served more than 30 years in the Chelsea Schools, she is not at the typical retirement age.
She said she would continue to serve Chelsea students in the field of education, perhaps hinting at a larger state-wide position.
“Upon retirement I plan to continue to serve Chelsea students and all children in the Commonwealth through the field of education,” she wrote. “I am and have always been a wife, mother, and teacher; I will never stop being all three. I still have much to contribute to the world of education and much to learn. I will never stop giving back and seeking to make the world a more equitable place for our students and families.”
Likewise, she said she has given advance notice so that she can support the School Committee in the superintendent search process. She stated she is fully committed to supporting the School Committee as they begin and carry out a “robust” search for a new superintendent. She also said she would be around to help put together a transition plan.
“My goal for all of us is that this transition will be smooth and seamless; we will not lose ground in all that we have built and achieved,” she wrote. “Our Chelsea Public Schools Five-Year Vision will be attained.”
Bourque was chosen as superintendent in 2011, and has served in that role since. Prior to that, she was the leader of the Clark Avenue School when it became transitioned to the old high school, and she was a teacher for many years before that.
Bourque has deep roots in Chelsea, and still lives in the city – as do many of her relatives.