LETTER: Yet another case of ‘superintendent whiplash’

To the editor:

I am writing to express my disappointment with the chaos the current School Committee has unleashed on Marblehead.

Superintendent Buckey was hired in February 2020 by a hiring committee co-chaired by Ms. Fox and Ms. Schaeffner as the seventh superintendent in 15 years. Dr. Buckey started in July 2020 in a different world. We were in the teeth of a global pandemic, and districts nationwide were grappling with balancing the education of students and the health of community. This was the dual mandate given to Superintendent Buckey: bring stability to the district and lead through a global pandemic.  Dr. Buckey led with a calm, steady presence during a period of high emotions.

Additionally, Dr. Buckey took steps to stabilize the district. Among many other actions, Dr. Buckey engaged the community and district staff to create Planning for Success strategic plan. Dr. Buckey charged his team with bringing budget asks that would finally provide Marblehead students with the education they deserve. Dr. Buckey initiated speakers like Dr. Nicholas Covino to address the emotional aftermath of the pandemic. Dr. Buckey is respected by colleagues, as he was elected president of the North Shore Superintendents Roundtable. 

Dr. Buckey is an active and invested leader. He hosts monthly coffees, is invited to PTO meetings, SEPAC meetings and attends events — sports, theater, academic, municipal and more. Dr. Buckey is a regular presence in classrooms. This high-impact initiative, to the shock of parents, was portrayed by two current School Committee members as negative. Superintendent Buckey has received proficient ratings on all superintendent evaluations, including the recent evaluation conducted by a committee that included three current members. 

The manner in which Dr. Buckey is being removed is not in the best interests of students, staff or community. This backward step ignores Marblehead’s financial climate and the requests for stability from teachers and staff. We have been abruptly yanked back into the disarray from which Dr. Buckey was hired to stabilize.

Marblehead residents are yet again being forced to suffer superintendent whiplash. A one-month-old committee has decided to burden us with substantial fiscal costs: buying out the superintendent’s contract, hiring an interim, the search for a successor and all related legal fees.  These are just the hard-money costs.

This committee is assuming significant latent impacts: disruption on the eve of the new school year, a devastating blow to Marblehead’s already tarnished reputation as unattractive to potential superintendents, and deters prospective families looking for a stable district to educate children in.

Astonishingly, all of this was done without a public meeting, without “doing the public’s business in public.” Where is the transparency? Where is the fiscal responsibility? 

Agree or disagree with Dr. Buckey’s decisions, he led through a dark and tumultuous period. He moved his family into our community and gave our children everything he has. Whatever the agenda of your current committee, Dr. John Buckey deserves better than the way he is being treated.

The School Committee should be ashamed.  This is not the way Marblehead treats its own.

Reece Dahlberg

Fieldbrook Road

Letter to the editor

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