Kevin Hutchinson will retire from his post as North Andover school superintendent next July.

NORTH ANDOVER – After eight years serving the North Andover public schools system, superintendent Dr. Kevin Hutchinson has decided this coming school year will be his last.

"It's time," Hutchinson said earlier this week. "I've been an educator for 41 years, and I'm still feeling great about what I do. Right now seems like the best time."

Hutchinson will officially retire next July 1, three years after he replaced Christopher Hottel as superintendent. Prior to taking the head job, Hutchinson served as assistant superintendent in North Andover.

Hutchinson's wife, Kathy, a longtime teacher in the Gloucester school system, will also be retiring at the end of the school year. The couple has lived in Gloucester for many years, and Hutchinson pointed to his wife's decision as another factor in his choice to step down.

Before working in the Merrimack Valley, Hutchinson worked in Arlington, where he served as assistant superintendent, and for many years worked in his hometown as a teacher and principal.

But North Andover holds a special place in his heart, he said.

"[North Andover] has been one of the best experiences of my life," Hutchinson said. "We've really been able to initiate some positive change here, and I'm proud to be a part of that."

The School Committee will form a search committee to find Hutchinson's replacement. Longtime committee member Stanley Limpert will serve as the head of the search panel.

"Dr. Hutchinson did a lot of great things for the schools," Limpert said. "He spent a great deal of time working on developing the curriculum, as well as improving the school budgeting and teacher contracts."

Limpert says the search committee finalized by early September. The committee will be no more than a dozen people, and will be made up of a diverse group of citizens, public officials, and educators.

Applications the superintendent position would ideally come in by the middle of November. The search committee would then pick three to five candidates who would be passed on to the school committee. By January, the decision on Hutchinson's replacement should be made.

Limpert said that "it's too early" to say what type of candidate should earn the job.

"That will come once [the search committee] actually sit down as a group," Limpert said. "We have to look at the characteristics of the candidate to see if he or she would be a good fit. Those characteristics have changed since the last search, so we need time to establish them."

For Hutchinson, there have been many highlights during his tenure in North Andover, but he points to the Building Respectful Community (BRC) initiative as one of the major ones.

The BRC initiative started in 2008 and focuses on issues such as bullying and substance abuse that plague public schools. It strives to create a learning environment where students and teachers treat each other with respect.

"It's all about how we can promote a more positive environment based on the social and emotional needs of our students. It's an important program and I'm glad to see how successful it's been."

Hutchinson said he will miss the simple interactions with students or colleagues when he steps down next July. He said he hopes the community will continue to recognize the work that he and his colleagues continue to do.

"I'd like to be able to say we've had a deeper understanding of all the pieces that need to be put together to put our strategic plan forward," Hutchinson said of his final year.

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