We are off to yet another School Year. Teachers returned to Methuen Public Schools on August 31st and students returned on September 1st. The City Elections are also coming up November 3rd and one member of our School Committee will not be seeking re-election, Mary Jean Fawcett. Having served on three different school committees (Dracut, Greater Lowell Tech, and Methuen), I can honestly say that the Methuen School Committee has been the most pleasurable to work with. All of the current members are dedicated to making Methuen Schools the best they can be and it has been my pleasure to work with each of them. I hope to work with them for two more years. Mary Jean Fawcett though will certainly be missed.
First off, congratulations and best of luck to Methuen Police Sargent Joe Aiello, the new Lead School Resource Officer, who made great presentation at the August 24th Methuen School Committee meeting and plans to hit the ground running.
I also want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen) and State Senator Katie Ives (D-Newburyport) for helping to secure $400,000 in state funding for the Nicholson Stadium Project in the Fiscal Year 2016 Massachusetts State Budget. I also want to thank Rep. Campbell and Sen. Ives for obtaining $108 million in increased Chapter 70 Education Funding and $18 million in increased funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker. This funding is essential in enabling us to provide needed services to Methuen students without additional burdens being placed on the local budget to meet state mandates.
My best wishes to Mary Jean Fawcett, who has chosen not to run for re-election to the Methuen School Committee. M.J., as we call her affectionately, has been a consummate professional on our Committee and who never seeks status or recognition in her role. Prior to her service as a School Committee member these past 4 years, Mary Jean Fawcett worked as an elementary school teacher at the Timony Grammar School, as an associate principal at the Comprehensive Grammar School, and finally, as Principal of the Timony Grammar School before retiring 8 years ago. Even though she is left-of-center on most issues (LOL), it has been my sincere pleasure to work with M.J. these past two years on several important initiatives and sub-committees, including the Superintendent Evaluation, Budget, and City Chargebacks.
The Methuen School Committee, along with M.J. Fawcett, has worked successfully as a team over the past two years to reduce the student drop-out rate, increase graduation rates, lower class sizes, and save taxpayers over $100,000 annually by reducing out-of-district Special Education placements. More on these next month. Best of luck, M.J. Fawcett, in your retirement and thank you for your service to our community.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and member of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He teaches Social Studies full-time at Reading Memorial High School. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003).