LETTER: Former school board member urges: ‘put kids first’

Editor’s note: This statement was prepared to be read during the public comment period at the July 26 School Committee meeting, which Chair Sarah Fox adjourned after one minute on the advice of counsel.

Good evening:

As a School Committee member for seven years, I participated in one superintendent resignation, one interim hiring, and the hiring of Dr. Buckey. While each of those three situations was unique, they all had one thing in common — determining what was in the best interest of our students, staff and community.

In the spring of 2020, I was one of five members who overwhelmingly selected Dr. John Buckey to be our next superintendent. In his first two years, Dr. Buckey’s leadership skills during COVID played a key role as he directed our district through remote learning, hybrid learning and COVID guidance that seemed to change daily.

Throughout the pandemic, he would always say the priority was keeping students and staff safe, then figuring out the best way to deliver the curriculum.

Also happening during this time was the Brown School construction project. Dr. Buckey was an active participant in the weekly meetings and helped keep to the project on track. Throughout the project, he led his team of administrators and staff who were educating the displaced students at three different temporary locations across the district.

Dr. Buckey has done an outstanding job at hiring quality staff and advocating for funding that will meet the 21st century needs. In 2022, the town supported capital funding for enhanced school safety, overdue upgrades to technology and investments in building maintenance.

His work with Assistant Superintendent Michelle Cresta has the school’s fiscal house in order, priorities in line, budgets balanced, and for the last three years has had a positive balance at year’s end.

Dr. Buckey has moved to Marblehead and embraced all that we love as citizens. He can be seen school events on weekend and evenings, at 9-11 memorials, town parades and out on the water with husband, Kevin, and dog, Rocky (who was named in a contest held with students at the Glover School).

In 2022, after completing Dr. Buckey’s thorough evaluation, we voted to extend his contract for two years.

I will close by using a phrase from Dr. Buckey’s weekly updates to the community: “Good People of Marblehead” — and School Committee. Rather than creating yet another educational void and wasting taxpayer dollars, let us come together tonight, by not exercising the early termination clause, putting our kids first and moving forward — not back where we’ve been before.

David Harris

Waldron Street

Letter to the editor

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