Published in the January 26, 2017 edition


NORTH READING — On Monday, School Committee Chairman Cliff Bowers announced he will not be running for re-election in the May 2 town election.

In an interview with the Transcript, Bowers said he decided not to run for a fourth term because of personal reasons.

“I have run for three terms and I have been on the School Committee for nine years,” said Bowers. “I am 78-years-old and I want to spend my evenings with my family.”

Bowers said his proudest moment during his tenure on the School Committee was seeing the secondary schools get built. In addition to serving on the School Committee, he has been a member of the Secondary Schools Building Committee (SSBC) for a number of years.

“I was involved with the two boards and I thought that was very advantageous for the project,” said Bowers.

Bowers said another memorable highlight during his tenure on the school board was “finding and hiring (former Superintendent) Kathy Willis.”

Additionally, Bowers has been the School Committee’s representative to the Suburban Coalition, where he has urged state officials to overhaul the Chapter 70 education funding formula. He also served on the Policy Subcommittee for eight years.

“I enjoyed being part of the full review of policies and procedures,” said Bowers.

After previously serving as the committee’s vice chairman on two separate occasions, Bowers was appointed chairman last May. During the meeting when Bowers was appointed School Committee chairman last May, School Committee member Mel Webster noted Bowers works incredibly hard and said his appointment as chairman was “truly well deserved.”

School Committee Vice Chairman Jerry Venezia echoed a similar sentiment last year.

“Cliff has been a workhorse on this committee,” said Venezia.

Bowers said participating in North Reading High School’s Class of 2016 graduation ceremony was incredibly rewarding.

“The most enjoyable thing was being able to sign my granddaughter’s diploma last year,” said Bowers. “That was very nice. Handing out diplomas and seeing the output of our district is a very positive feeling. I am very proud of the district. We have a very fine school system.”

While Bowers will be leaving the School Committee this spring, he will still be involved in the school system because he has grandchildren in the schools. His daughter and son-in-law also work for the district.

“I will not completely walk away because I have got too much involved,” said Bowers.

Bowers said he is going to miss serving on the school board.

“It’s a good School Committee,” said Bowers. “I will miss the camaraderie of the group.”

In the wake of Bowers’ decision not to seek a fourth term, two candidates pulled nomination papers for School Committee last week and will be looking to succeed Bowers. The race will feature former School Committee candidate Laina Simone and political newcomer Scott Buckley (see separate stories).