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GROTON – It’s official.

What has been rumored and talked about for the last several weeks has come to pass at the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District with the announcement last week that Joseph Mastrocola has resigned his position as school superintendent.

The official news was given in a press release from the School Committee dated March 15 simply stating that Mastrocola had resigned his position to accept the superintendent’s job in the Peabody public school system.

In accepting the position in Peabody, Mastrocola was returning to familiar territory where he worked as assistant superintendent from 2007 to 2010.

Before that, Mastrocola began his professional career as a special education teacher then moved into administration. He earned a degree in school administration from Salem State College where he also received a Bachelor’s in political science and business.

Mastrocola took the School Committee somewhat by surprise earlier in the year when he informed them that he was a finalist in Peabody’s search for a new superintendent. Regretting the potential loss of a popular administrator but recognizing the need to begin preparations for what was anticipated to be a drawn out search process, committee members met to begin mapping out a strategy for finding a replacement.

“It’s always hard to find good people,” said School Committee chairman James Frey. “But we’re already promoting the fact that we’re seeking an interim superintendent. We’re accepting resumes until April 20. After that there will be a screening process and we hope to be conducting interviews by mid-May.”

Frey added that once the search began for a permanent replacement, it was hoped that someone could be hired in time for the start of the 2013 academic year.

Mastrocola earned the respect of the School Committee, town officials, and local residents by taking school spending that had seemingly grown out of hand despite declining enrollment and for the two years of his being on the job, turned in budgets that either saved money or called for no increase in spending.

The superintendent’s budget for fiscal 2013 for instance, had a “0” percentage change as its bottom line.

“We gave him a very favorable performance review last year and we were on track to do the same this year,” said Frey of how the School Committee felt about the superintendent. “Mastrocola did a good job working with the business director to put the district back on a firm financial footing.”

In its March 15 statement, the School Committee congratulated Mastrocola on winning his new position and assured the public that the popular administrator would remain on hand to help familiarize his replacement with the superintendent’s job.

“The committee commends Mr. Mastrocola, who has pledged his continued engagement and support during the transition for his two years of dedication and service

to the district and to the communities of Groton and Dunstable,” read the statement.

Immediately following its commendation, the School Committee announced its plans for replacing Mastrocola as superintendent.

“The committee has resolved to identify and hire an interim superintendent as soon as possible and will subsequently launch a search for a long-term replacement in the fall of 2012,” read the statement.

In the meantime, the current superintendent has promised to remain available to help in the transition of administrations.

“Mastrocola will absolutely be on tap to offer his services in the interim,” assured Frey.

Those seeking more information on the requirements for the interim position can learn more via the district’s website at ] or by contacting the district’s director of human resources. Applications for the interim position will be accepted until April 20.