Assabet selects new Superintendent – a current tech school principal

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School has been searching for a new superintendent since summer. This week, they named their man – Ernest Houle, principal of Minuteman Technical High School.

Houle’s contract is in negotiation and a start date to be determined.

AVRT is currently over seen by formerly retired Superintendent-Director Mary Jo Nawrocki. Nawrocki stepped into the interim role after Superintendent Patrick Collins stepped down at the end of July.

Collins’ resignation was reported as the aftermath of purported conflict with AVRT Principal Mark Hollick.

At the time, Southborough Wicked Local wrote that students and parents protested to rumors that Collins was trying to squeeze out Hollick. Reaction included a student walk out and protest at school committee meetings.

With a new chief on the way in, I wondered about the differences in roles for two administrators running one school.

The school’s public relations liaison, Cindy Zomar clarified it for me: 

The Principal, like a principal in any school, is responsible for the day to day running of the building, the welfare of the students, oversees that the curriculum is aligned, etc.

In our case, the Superintendent manages a bigger picture…

we are responsible and accountable to 12 different communities. We have a large Perkins grant that funds much of our technical side, which must be overseen. We have to come up with a budget that will pass the scrutiny of our 7 member towns’ finance committees.

He/she is also supposed to be a visionary, trying to make sure that we are watching market trends, opening or closing technical programs to reflect the job market locally, and globally.

The superintendent has less to do with the students than the Principal does. The superintendent is also responsible for negotiating contracts with the teachers’ union and the support staff union.

More details from the school on their new hire are below:

Ernest F. Houle Chosen as Assabet Valley Superintendent/Director

Lynn Ryan, Chairperson of the Assabet Valley Regional School District School Committee, announced today that, pending successful contract negotiations, Ernest F. Houle, the current Principal of Minuteman Technical High School, will be the next Superintendent/Director at Assabet Valley. While a start date has not been finalized, Ryan hopes to work something out with Minuteman to get Houle on board sooner rather than later. “We had many highly qualified candidates, but, after several rounds of interviews and site visits, we felt that Ernie was going to be a good fit in our building. Our Administrative staff is looking forward to helping him make the transition a smooth one,” announced Ryan.

Houle started his career at Minuteman in 1996 as an aide in the Welding Department, becoming a Welding Instructor in 1998. Since that time, he served as Assistant Division Coordinator of the Construction/Power Division, chapter advisor for Skills USA, Vice Chair of the Minuteman Safety Committee and Vice President of the Minuteman Faculty Association. Houle also served as Director of the After School program and Director of the Summer School and Enrichment programs. He was appointed Director of Community Education in August, 2007 and then became Interim Principal/Director of Community Education July 1, 2011; on July 1, 2012 he was named Principal of Minuteman.

“I am anxious and excited to be part of the Assabet Valley family,” said Houle.

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