New Bedford Schools Superintendent Anderson Finalist for Newton Job
New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Anderson has been announced as a finalist for the same position with Newton Public Schools.
According to a press release from Newton School Committee Chair Tamika Olszewski, Anderson has been named one of three finalists for the Newton job, along with Peter Light, Superintendent of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, and Anna Nolin, Superintendent of Natick Public Schools.
Each of the three candidates will visit Newton next week for in-person tours, staff meet-and-greets, and a virtual community forum. Each candidate will then be interviewed that evening by the school committee.
Anderson is scheduled for the final of the three visits, on Thursday, February 16.
The candidates were selected by a search committee composed of parents, educators, administrators, community members and school committee members, according to the release. It also stated the search has been ongoing since the Fall of 2022.
WBSM reached out to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell seeking comment on Anderson being named a finalist, and if he had been open about the process with the mayor, who also serves as Chair Ex-Officio of the New Bedford School Committee.
“All I can tell you is that Superintendent Anderson did inform the Mayor that he was a finalist for the position in Newton this past weekend,” City spokesperson Holly Huntoon told WBSM.
School committee member Bruce Oliveira said he’d only learned of Anderson’s potential departure on Monday morning.
“We just found out. I was just informed of it this morning,” Oliveira told WBSM. “Unfortunately, this is part of this end of the business. Thomas has done a phenomenal job here, and I knew with his youth and his talent, I said this day would come, I just was hoping it wouldn’t be this soon.”
“There aren’t a lot of top, top quality superintendents out there, so people seek them out,” Oliveira said. “But he told me he also knows he’s got a job here, and he’s planning to stay focused on this job, and the future will bring what the future will bring. I’m happy for him but disappointed for us. I really respect the man and he’s done a really good job for us.”
Fellow school committee member Chris Cotter also said he wasn’t surprised that another district was looking to recruit Anderson.
“Being one who was on the committee that hired Thomas initially, I’m saddened to have learned this information, but we would all be foolish to think great superintendents are not recruited,” committee member Chris Cotter told WBSM. “Selfishly, I would not want him to leave our district as he has brought our district to a position that we needed. If he does happen to be able to decide, I’m sure he will do what’s right for both him and his family.”
We emailed Superintendent Anderson for comment but have not heard back as of this writing. We will update this story with any comments from him or other school committee members if they are provided.
Anderson was named Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools on July 1, 2018, after winning the job over other finalists Maynard Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Gerardi; Heather Larkin, Director of Guidance and Pupil Personnel Services at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School; and Ana Riley, Superintendent of Portsmouth Schools in Rhode Island and former Superintendent of Dartmouth Public Schools.
Anderson took over after Dr. Pia Durkin announced her resignation in 2017, citing “major philosophical differences” with members of the school committee at that time. Her issues with then-incoming school committee member John Oliveira were well-documented.
Anderson continued the schools’ turnaround that began under Durkin and led New Bedford schools through the COVID-19 pandemic and the remote learning era, and New Bedford was one of the first districts to use a hybrid learning model to get students back into the classroom.
In 2021, New Bedford High School saw a graduation rate of 90 percent, up 30 points from where it was a decade prior. The dropout rate had also dropped to just 2.1 percent, after reaching a high of nine percent in 2009.
Prior to running the New Bedford school system, Anderson was Superintendent of Randolph Public Schools, and before that, he was an Assistant Superintendent in the District of Columbia Public School System in Washington, D.C.