The Montgomery County Board of Education has unanimously appointed Larry A. Bowers as interim superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools for the 2015-2016 school year. Bowers, a 37-year veteran of MCPS, has been serving as interim superintendent since February. His appointment is pending approval by the Maryland state superintendent of schools.
The appointment was met with thunderous applause from the many members of the MCPS staff which were in attendance at the Special Board of Ed meeting called for this appointment. Bowers, 66, who served as the district’s chief operating officer for 16 years, had planned to retire at the end of this school year but, at the request of the Board, agreed to put it off for one more year.
“The Mr. Bowers Fan Club is clearly in attendance,” joked Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Board after the applause died down. “We are deeply grateful that he has agreed to serve as interim for this coming year. I know this wasn’t exactly what he had planned. He was scheduled to retire as of July 1 and I know that travel plans and knee replacement surgery have been looming on the horizon. I hope your wife will forgive us,” joked O’Neill to Bowers during the meeting. “The MCPS staff is very happy that there will be stability and positive direction. I know our deputies have been working very hard with Mr. Bowers this spring to make sure that all of our kids are educated, that the buses run on time, that AP exams are given, that principal appointments go forward. I thank the team for their hard work.”
The appointment of Bowers comes three days after it was made public that the Board’s “preferred candidate” to replace Joshua Starr as superintendent of schools, Andrew Houlihan had withdrawn his name from consideration for the job leaving the Board unable to find a superintendent before Bowers was to retire on July 1.
“I appreciate everybody’s support and I appreciate the Board’s support,” said Bowers at the meeting. “This wasn’t exactly what I was planning, but as everyone knows I have dedicated 37 years of my life to this school system. I have been extremely committed to not only make this the best school system in the country, but also a place where every parent is confident that wherever they are sending their child to school in Montgomery County, that they will get a good education and they are going to be prepared for their future. We still have work to do.
“I was certainly willing to step in knowing that I want to keep us not only on the right track, by working closely with the Board over the next month to layout the plan for next year when dealing with some of the issues of literacy and mathematics and the progress that we need to make, especially when focusing on the achievement gap and making great progress in that area,” said Bowers.
“I want to say I am looking forward to it, but I am not sure,” joked Bowers. “I really was looking forward to retirement, but I am very committed to the school system and work that we have been doing, and I want to make sure it continues.”
“Larry Bowers has done an outstanding job as interim superintendent since he stepped into the role in February and we are pleased that he will serve our students and staff for another year,” said O’Neill, in a statement issued by MCPS. “He is the right person to provide the stability and leadership we need at this time in the history of MCPS, especially as we face significant budgetary challenges in the coming months.”
In February, Bowers was appointed to serve as interim superintendent from February 16, 2015, until June 30, 2015, while the Board conducted a search for a new superintendent of schools. His new appointment runs from July 1 until June 30, 2016.
“Our hope was to have a permanent superintendent in place for next school year but, at this time, we believe it is best to move forward in this manner,” O’Neill said. “We are grateful that Mr. Bowers has agreed to stay for another year and look forward to finding a permanent superintendent to lead our district in the future.”
Over the past three months, much of Bowers’ focus has been on the MCPS operating budget and managing an expected shortfall due to lagging local revenue and a cut in state funding.