Q & A with school leader

MILFORD – Students and teachers in the Milford district went back to school this week under the leadership of a new superintendent of schools. Robert Marquis takes the place of Robert Suprenant, who retired after 11 years with the district. Marquis comes from the Somersworth and Rollinsford school district, where he was the assistant superintendent for SAU 56.

Marquis has a B.S. in psychology from Boston State College, a M.Ed. in counseling from Suffolk University, a certificate of advanced graduate studies in school psychology from Northeastern University, and a M.Ed. in educational administration and supervision.

In February, he signed a three-year contract with the school board and is receiving a base pay of $125.000.

Q. How was the transition from one school district to another?

A. There are more similarities than difference. Teachers and administrators are always evolving and are under all kinds of pressure … and children are children wherever you go. I am very impressed with the level of professionalism and support here. I get a keen sense that relationships are critical – between teachers and kids, parents and staff – just by listening to conversations.

Q. Some districts have a teacher shortage. Does Milford have enough teachers this year?

A. We are very fortunate to be almost completely staffed, and with very qualified candidates. We’ve hired good teachers who share our values and principles.

Q. What about standardized testing?

A. Changing from the NECAP to the Smarter Balanced assessments will be a learning experience for everyone. You can’t compare results – they are a completely different assessment, looking at kids through a different lense. It will take time to understand what the results mean, but Smarter Balanced tests the application of knowledge to real-world situations.

Q. Milford has half-day kindergarten program, started after the state mandated kindergarten in 2009. Are you in favor of a full-day program here?

A. I am a very big proponent of full-time kindergarten … it is extraordinarily beneficial for children’s education, and Common Core standards were developed in light of full-day kindergarten. But there is a fiscal impact, and a decision on to implement a program is a process the school board and the community have to go through.

Q. What about Milford’s school buildings?

A. There is no need for more facilities at this point, but I understand there are a number of housing developments in the works, and we have to be mindful that things can change.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.