Bedford Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad publicly announced near the end of Tuesday’s School Committee meeting that he will retire at the end of this fiscal year.
Conrad, whose three-year contract began on July 1, 2020, said, “This has been an amazing experience for me, the pinnacle of my educational career. And I really appreciate that opportunity.”
He said the job takes “an extra amount of time and energy. I have enjoyed doing it. I have to say it has been exhilarating – and exhausting.” He commented, “What I have lacked in longevity, I think we can all agree we have made up in intensity.”
Conrad was hired in March 2020, right after the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even now, in the third year of his three-year contract, things aren’t completely back to normal.
“You were the ideal superintendent for the pandemic,” said committee member Ann Guay. “This is not the news I wanted to hear, but I admire you going out at the time right for you.”
Her colleague Sheila Mehta-Green agreed about “the toll that it took on you and everyone else.” During the period most impacted by the pandemic, “We did it well here in Bedford. So much of that was due to your leadership and your willingness to work with our entire community.”
Committee member Dan Brosgol said he was saddened and disappointed. “Thank you for the work you have done for us,” he said.
Conrad said this is his 36th year in education. Originally an art teacher, he came to Bedford after serving as principal of Andover High School. Earlier, he was a school principal in Rockport and Hamilton.
“I look forward to working with you for nine months,” Conrad told the committee. “Now you have every opportunity to bring someone in and move the work forward.”
“That’s difficult news for us, but thank you for letting us know in a timely manner,” committee Chair Brad Morrison told Conrad. “Bedford has had decades of truly effective leadership, and the show will go on. We will continue to do great things together.”
He noted that he feels “somewhat assured or at least comforted that it has only been three years since we conducted a search, and we had a rich pool of applicants,” Morrison said. “I think Bedford has a reputation that will attract some talent. So now we have to put together a process.”
“It’s a wonderful place, and you will have some wonderful candidates,” Conrad replied.
Conrad was the first Bedford superintendent of schools from outside the district since Joseph Buckley was hired in 1981. Buckley was succeeded by his assistant superintendent, Dr. Maureen Lacroix, and after she retired, the position went to Bedford High School Principal Jon Sills.