Town leaders praise former school superintendent

Breaking their silence, members of the Select Board publicly thanked Dr. John Buckey for his service, just days after the School Committee ratified a nearly $175,000 separation agreement with the former superintendent.

The Select Board avoided comment on the controversial departure in early August. But members appeared to feel compelled at a meeting this week to acknowledge Buckey’s contributions, while still avoiding direct criticism of the School Committee.

“All of us have likely faced pressure to comment on the situation,” Select Board Chair Erin Noonan said. “Speaking for myself, I believe there is an unspoken rule of decorum within local government and politics that suggests it is best not to offer opinions, or at least to be reserved, when it comes to elected officials commenting on other elected boards or officials, especially during times of upheaval and turmoil.”

Noonan went on to “express gratitude for Dr. Buckey’s service to the town and he definitely had passion for the job here and made himself a really nice part of the community.”

Former school superintendent John Buckey outside the Brown School last fall. CURRENT PHOTO / LEIGH BLANDER

Kicking off the praise, Select Board member Jim Nye kept his remarks brief, “I would like to publicly thank Dr. John Buckey for his three years of service to the town. Dr. Buckey was always professional and a pleasure to work with.”

He added, “And I wish him Godspeed going forward.”

Select Board member Moses Grader offered more expansive praise. He said he’s worked closely with Buckey over his three-year tenure.

“In my experience, Dr. Buckey has been more than professional. He had an open mind and he worked closely with the town to develop some of our long-term plans that we valued a great deal,” Grader said. “[Dr. Buckey] supported the drive toward more technology and also budget accountability.”

Grader added, “These are issues that were important to me, and they’ve always been a friction point with the schools but he was very open about it.”

He said Buckey cultivated “an environment of respectful discourse.”

Grader also spoke to what he saw as a lack of consensus around “why Dr. Buckey was let go” within the School Committee and in the town.

He added, “As a result, we’re left with guesses and, unfortunately, negative insinuations about the causes of his departure.”

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