Holcomb credited for leadership during pandemic

School Superintendent Scott Holcomb

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

In normal times, a superintendent might be evaluated on the quality of a school district’s education, communication with parents, or improving the atmosphere of learning.

However, 2020 was anything but normal, and faced with unique challenges, Superintendent Scott Holcomb was praised for the work he has done.

At the School Committee’s virtual meeting on March 1, the superintendent received his annual evaluation, which was forwarded to the state following a unanimous vote. Committee Chair James McKenna said that Holcomb worked the last 23 months without taking a vacation and has been focused on the students.

Those are the types of things we all go through in life and should not be forgotten,” he said.

Committee member Kevin O’Donnell called Holcomb an “effective and true leader” who surrounds himself with the best people. He credited Holcomb’s work ethic, saying that he would often be up until 1 a.m. answering e-mails from parents.

A true leader doesn’t always get the pat on the back—sometimes you’re on an island by yourself,” said O’Donnell. “You can’t make everybody happy. We witnessed that firsthand in August when there was opposition to reopening and he took that on. He’s a a true leader and North Attleborough should be proud.”

Schools were closed last March after the pandemic struck the U.S.—at the time for just a week. But as it became clear that COVID would be around for much longer, the district pivoted to remote learning, providing Google Chromebooks and internet hotspots so that all students could continue their education.

In the fall, schools reopened in a hybrid format, with students divided into cohorts and in school two days a week, remote learning the other three. At the same meeting, Holcomb announced a plan to bring students back to school four days a week, starting with kindergarten the week of March 8.

Town Council President Keith Lapointe—the council representative on the committee—said that Holcomb showed great leadership during a challenging time. He also pointed out the many people that had to work together under difficult circumstances.

People are not on the same page in terms of the right answers,” said Lapointe. “You did it with as much transparency as you possibly could. You really hammered home the focus on mental health for the students.”

Carol Wagner joked that even though Holcomb had laid her off during the district’s stricter budget times, he had done an outstanding job and the town was fortunate to have him around. She said he gave the faculty the leeway to do what had to be done.

You made sure they (the students) had Chromebooks and internet. You made sure that the kids had food. You worked with all the regulations given by the state and met them all,” said Wagner. “Our students are much better for him and our town is much better for him being here.”