Superintendent John Buckey started the June 15 School Committee meeting saying he would not accept a contract extension or raise, if offered, because his focus is on Tuesday’s $2.5 million override vote that will help fund the schools and other town departments.
“I want to state unequivocally that all of us — the School Committee, the superintendent and the people of Marblehead — have a far more pressing matter before us. That is the override vote that will be held next Tuesday, June 20,” Buckey said. “This critical vote on the budget for the schools and other town departments has profound implications. I, for one, am focused solely on that vote.”
Buckey continued, “To that end, while I appreciate any efforts on my behalf to advocate for a contract extension and/or a pay increase, I say that now is not the time. With our town finances as stretched as they are, I believe a salary freeze for the superintendent is appropriate, and I will not accept a pay increase in the upcoming fiscal year. The very last thing that I want is for speculation about my contract to have any bearing whatsoever on the critical town-wide vote on Tuesday. My goal here tonight is to render the question of my contract completely moot and to keep the focus on the urgent needs of our students and staff.”
Previously, School Committee Chair Sarah Fox had said she planned to add a discussion about Buckey’s contract to the meeting’s agenda after a request from member Sarah Gold. Gold later rescinded her request.
The School Committee voted at the meeting to approve a “proficient” performance review for Buckey.
During a public comment section of the meeting, Finance Committee member Cam Staples tried to speak on Zoom but after connectivity issues came down to the meeting at the high school in person to support Buckey.
“I’ve spent a couple years as a liaison between the Finance Committee and School Committee,” Staples said. “Prior to a few years ago, there was a lot of mistrust. During the last two years, there’s been a real change in that relationship. As a member of the Finance Committee and a parent, I want to say that I thought a proficient rating was a bit shocking.”
Later, member Sarah Gold — who gave Buckey significantly higher marks on her evaluation — said according to the Department of Early and Secondary Education, a proficient rating is quite good.
“Proficient is by DESE standards an incredibly high standard of achievement. Proficient is indicative of a really good performance,” she said.
Also during public comment, parent Catherine Martin pointed out, “The thing with the contract negotiations or review, if you’re doing a good job it doesn’t matter who is on the committee. The politics shouldn’t play into this. You should do exactly what Dr. Buckey did tonight and put the students first. Let’s focus on Question 1. It really is going to be detrimental to our kids if it doesn’t pass.”
Outgoing member Tom Mathers wished his colleagues well, noting that June 15 was his last meeting. He said he hoped Gold “returns to the committee” and offered high praise to Buckey.
“I’m really impressed how you stepped up,” he said. “You’ve taken coaching, and you don’t always agree. I’m proud of the job you’ve done. I look forward to seeing you soar in this district.”