In Search of a New High School Leader

School Committee members thanked departing high school Principal Layne Millington after learning he has taken a job as Marblehead High School's new principal.

School Committee members wished the best to departing Swampscott High Principal Layne Millington at the start of their meeting Wednesday.

The committee also looked ahead.

"We'll do the best we can to get a leader at the high school," said member Ted Delano.

Committee Chairman Larry Beaupre thanked Millington for his work, noting that if Swampscott couldn't have him as its principal it was good know that he would be working in the town next door.

Patch will report on the district's plans to replace Millington as they become available.  

Marblehead Superintendent of Schools Greg Maass told teachers and staff on Wednesday afternoon that Layne Millington would be the new principal at Marblehead High School.

Millington, formerly the assistant principal at Belmont High School, has been at the helm at Swampscott High since July 2010.

The Marblehead principal search started in January when a screening committee of parents and students and anyone else who cared to be on the panel recommended eight applicants to an interview committee.

The interview committee, also made up of parents and students and anyone else who cared to be on the panel, conducted interviews and narrowed the field to four finalists.

One of them subsequently accepted a position elsewhere.

The other two finalists were Deb Heaton, Marblehead High's interim principal, and Edward Rozmiarek, Lowell High headmaster.

The Marblehead superintendent interviewed the finalists before February vacation.

Meanwhile, Swampscott is in the early stages of a search for superintendents, seeking an interim superintendent and a permanent superintendent.

Earlier this month, members of the Swampscott School Committee including Delano  sought to keep the Swampscott High principal in Swampscott by bringing forth a motion that would have made Millington superintendent in January of 2014.

That motion was later withdrawn after debate between supporters and opponents. Opponents argued that any choice for superintendent should first go through a selection process.

Earlier, we asked the principal for any thoughts he cared to share about his possible move to another position.

He said his experience with the students, faculty and parents at Swampscott High has been incredible.  

"Through their work, the school has grown immensely by every measure of achievement in an extraordinary way," he said.  "However, I am looking at my professional options for the sake of my family and to ensure my own professional growth."

Here is a press release from Marblehead schools on the choice of Millington:

Layne Millington brings seven years of high school leadership experience to Marblehead Public Schools.

Marblehead Public Schools announces, after a comprehensive search and site visit, that Layne Millington has been offered the High School Principalship, effective July 1, 2013.  The new instructional leader is coming from Swampscott where he has been lead principal and has prior high school leadership experience from Belmont. His thoughtful collaborative style and many accomplishments will surely make him a strong asset to Marblehead’s high school.

Superintendent Greg Maass of Marblehead Public Schools is pleased to bring Layne Millington on board.  Millington is a seasoned high functioning Principal who has many accomplishments. He has led the NEASC accreditation process in his last position. His strong financial background from the private sector ensures his strong budget building skills. Layne comes with the knowledge of the new X2/Aspen Student Management System that Marblehead is implementing this spring.  He has also been very successful with building METCO programs in his past school districts.  His colleagues and peers had positive comments to describe him, such as: he is genuine, a decision maker, he truly cares about all students and faculty, he has an open door policy, he never turns anyone away, he is a great listener, he is not afraid to make effective change.  Everything that Layne Millington has to offer will strengthen Marblehead’s high performing high school.

Marblehead’s screening and interview committees are pleased to learn about the selection of Layne Millington for High School Principal and look forward to Marblehead Public Schools continued excellence in serving the students and community of Marblehead.

Kevin Donaher February 28, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Seriously, exactly what major achiements did Millington bring to Swampscott High School? I see this written all the time but have never seen an actual example. Is dropping 49th state wide an achievement? Has the number of students being accepted to college under his watch increased? Are MCAS scores higher? What are the measures that indicate such great achiement over the past couple years he states are "incredible"? Was Swampscott that bad off prior to Millington? The school board congratulating him for moving on to Marblehead is ridiculous. He was not thrown out, he decided to go and now it looks like Swampscott will have to find a second best administrator since the best is now going to Marblehead. Can it get any worse?
Liz Bradley February 28, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Ilene February 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM
First of all, I've lived in Swampscott for 10 years and never seen the high school better than 49 statewide. People keep referencing the golden days here (something you hear every time someone proposes any kind of change, or spending money to fix or improve anything) but I've not seen any proof that our school system was ever tops, other than people saying it was. Since there weren't MCAS in the past, not sure what was actually used to measure "tops" anyway... My junior started school the first year of Mr. Millington's tenure. Prior to that, there had been no stability in the school for several years. Teacher and student morale was not good - now it is. The majority of the students really like him, because they felt he liked and respected them, and made the school feel proud. He decreased the too long classroom periods, increased number of AP courses, brought in accountabliity in terms of drinking and drugs (yes, many of us actually like and supported that policy), instituted regular meetings with the kids, changed the policy so kids weren't able to use their phones in class (his first year, before he put through these changes but just observed what the prior administration had done, my daughter was on her phone throughout the school day. I have her cell phone records to prove it. She's a great student but addicted to the phone, like many kids so the new policy made much more sense). He went through a successful accreditation visit and instituted other successful policies.
Ilene February 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM
He wasn't perfect, but was thoughtfully and carefully making the changes that we needed to become an even better school, the school we all want Swampscott to have. He was open to listening to others and if people were unhappy with him, they should have spoken to him about it. He was a good principal and I am certain would have continued to make small and large changes to benefit the school. There is a great STEM academy coming up for rising 9th graders starting next year which sounds wonderful and innovative - check it out. Those are the kinds of things we will miss. Millington decided to go because he felt he couldn't stay here for whatever reason. I'm sure he didn't leave for extra money, so why else would he leave?
Ilene February 28, 2013 at 03:57 PM
My last comment for now: no disputes that Marblehead ranks consistently higher than Swampscott on any list of high schools - MCAS, graduation, number going to ivy leagues, etc. It's obvious they take education and their high school pretty seriously. I'm sure they did their homework before choosing Millington - not just listening to parents like me, but looking at what he really did for the school. If they didn't think he had actually delivered anything, they wouldn't have hired him. He also wouldn't have been on the finalist list in other districts. So why not just admit he was apparently a good principal, even if you didn't agree with everything he did?
Restless February 28, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Hear hear!!!!
Jackie Kinney February 28, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I agree Ilene - I have always thought Mr. Millington was and is an excellent High School Principal. That is why I could not understand the move to take him out of the High School and make him the Superintendent. It struck me as a misguided attempt to keep someone in the district who, it turns out, just didn't want to be here any more. I wish him the best of luck in Marblehead.
stm2010 February 28, 2013 at 05:10 PM
So you are saying would not have made an excellent Super in Swampscott? Too bad we will never find out cause the SC listened too much to outsiders rather than do what they thought was best for the system.
John February 28, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Millington said in the Feb. 19 meeting that Swampscott has had 13 different principals and superintendents in a decade. Now That is Stability !!!
John February 28, 2013 at 05:21 PM
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/massachusetts/rankings How about NOT in the Top 65 ? Look at some of these schools that are ahead of us !
Jackie Kinney February 28, 2013 at 05:44 PM
You know, I find it laughable that so many people on these blogs and around town cry for "transparency" and "visibility into the system" and decry the "culture of secrecy" around the School Committee, demanding straight answers to questions they have had about various contractual matters, personnel matters, audits etc. Until, of course, that argument no longer serves their purposes, to which we then we hear that the SC was spineless and that they listened "too much to outsiders." News flash - you are the outsiders of whom you speak. As someone no doubt wiser than me said "You can't have it both ways!"
Myjanda February 28, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Millington made it clear at the PTF meeting I went to that he no longer felt he could work in Swampscott, so I doubt he would have taken the super role even if given it. Also, the US news report is very interesting. If you look at it closely, looks like where we fail in this ranking is with what they are defining as College Readiness - the number of our students taking AP courses. For example, Hopkinton, ranked #3, had over 80% of kids taking AP courses, while we are about 30%. In general SHS does not offer many AP courses compared to other schools, although that has increased a little bit these past few years. Also the AP teachers are getting specific instruction in how to teach these, which really makes a difference.
stm2010 February 28, 2013 at 06:26 PM
There may be some people that want transparency for whatever reasons they have, all I care about is what is best for the school system. The SC was voted in to make decisions regarding the schools. We have to live with their decisions whether we agree with them or not. Ultimately the voters will decide whether the record of the current SC is good or not. My take is that they lacked the leadership with dealing with the succession planning of the super. I equate leadership with making a decision without being influenced by outsiders whether the decision is popular or not. It a shame because their initial gut feeling was the right move, but they did not follow through. To be honest the culture of secrecy is a result of many people not knowing how the system works, both citizens and SC. If the SC published a policy manual and referenced said manual when discussing issues that is on itself will clear up the nonsense of secrecy.
Mary DeChillo March 04, 2013 at 01:01 AM
MA General Laws which include the Education Reform Act provide that all decisions regarding school governance be done in public meetings according to the Open Meeting Laws and Open Record Laws of the Commonwealth. The Open Meeting laws allow for 13 explicit exceptions to public discussion law--i.e. what can be discussed in "Executive Session". The SC doesn't have to make a policy book for this governance--it is written in the law. All SC business needs to be listed on an agenda which must be publicly listed 48 hours prior to the next SC meeting. You can get that at the Town Clerk's office or the School Dept. or it should be on-line. In the case of making policy decisions about hiring practices (e.g. changing a job title or creating a new or altered position), these must be listed in advance on the SC agenda and heard by the SC at least twice in public meetings and before being adopted or rejected by the SC.
Citizen Swamp March 04, 2013 at 02:34 AM
MDc, Love your recitation of MA school law. Question, why do all of the former School Committee members who post on this site seem to be clued in on the background info regarding to the recent personnel action regarding to Ms. Celli. It seems to me that previous School Committees failed to be blunt and honest in their annual reviews of the district Supt. of Schools. CS
stm2010 March 04, 2013 at 11:31 AM
MDC Never said that it was the law to create a policy manual, but it is best practice to do so. The policy manual should also include an ethics policy for the SC. The SC doesn't even need to recreate the wheel these policies are posted at many other school district websites and I am sure the MASC has templates that can be customized for Swampscott. To be blunt I not sure why we are so behind the ball on this- it's sad.
stm2010 March 04, 2013 at 11:47 AM
MDC, Since you referenced the law, why don't you post a link to the chapter and verse specifically: " In the case of making policy decisions about hiring practices (e.g. changing a job title or creating a new or altered position), these must be listed in advance on the SC agenda and heard by the SC at least twice in public meetings and before being adopted or rejected by the SC."


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