After leaving the Andover school district to work for the state Department of Education in 2010, Claudia Bach was always willing to help the town.
She got her chance a decade later, when she applied for a six-month interim Andover superintendent position, and is now leading the town’s schools.
When former Superintendent Shelley Berman announced his resignation in the fall, “people began to contact me and asked me to step into this position,” said Bach, who is a former longtime Andover superintendent.
Taking the interim superintendent post has been a balancing act for Bach because the district faces immediate pressure to get children back into school, while continuing plans for a new West Elementary School and getting a budget passed. Bach said as interim superintendent, she sees the continuation of “that short-term list of things you can’t wait on.”
“Rather than holding steady, we need to move forward,’’ she said, explaining that having the school district in the best shape possible will lure top candidates for the permanent superintendent job.
Bach stepped into the interim position as pressure from parents mounted to get children back into school full time while the pandemic continues. She said she doesn’t have a “magical answer” to return students to classrooms, but she has scheduled times to meet with parent-teacher organizations to hear their frustrations and suggested solutions.
Bach promised to be an “active listener” and said she knows parents, students and teachers have all struggled with remote learning.
“The next two months is particularly about making sure we are doing everything possible to keep students and staff safe,” Bach said as Andover continues to be a high-risk community for COVID-19, with a further increase in cases expected because of the holidays.
Bach has been away from public schools since she left the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2013. For the past 10 years, she has been a trustee for the private Pike School in Andover until she resigned last week to avoid any conflict of interest.
While on the Pike Board of Trustees, Bach was part of a COVID-preparedness group for the school. She reviewed often-changing state and federal guidance about dealing with the virus, while planning students’ return to school. She also worked with local health officials.
Now Bach said she is working to attract a top permanent superintendent candidate for Andover, moving forward with the district’s ongoing projects and “supporting what’s in place and the staff who have worked so hard.’’