Methuen School Committee Approves Net School Spending Re-Payment Plan

D.J. DeebBy: DJ Deeb – February, 2015

Members of the Methuen School Committee unanimously approved a Ne School Spending Deficit Repayment Plan Agreement compiled by the Mayor in conjunction with Superintendent Judy Scannell and School Business Administrator Ian Gosselin.

Last spring, the School Committee was informed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that the City of Methuen is not meeting the state requirements for net school spending. DESE informed the City that it has a total net school-spending deficit of $3,520,637, which resulted from the manner in which credits for retiree health insurance were calculated over previous years.

The approved agreement calls for the City of Methuen to appropriate an additional $586,772.83 to the School Department over the next 6 years (From Fiscal years 2016 through 2021) to repay the deficit in addition to the required amount of Net School Spending funds as established annually by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Had the Mayor and City Council failed to address this in conjunction with the School Committee, state reimbursements to both the City of Methuen and the schools could have been drastically reduced. The School Committee and City officials have tried to balance being fiscally responsible while at the same time providing fair and adequate funding for our schools and meeting state requirements.

Congratulations to Methuen High School Principal Jim Giuca, who recently announced his intentions to retire at the end of this school year in June. Jim was first hired as Principal of the Tenney Grammar School by former Superintendent Phil Littlefield 12 years ago. For the past 6 years, he has worked as Principal of Methuen High School. Superintendent Judy Scannell writes, “Jim has been a key member of the district leadership team.

Over the last 4 years Jim has been the guiding force that brought the high school through physical changes both to the interior and exterior of the building, as walls were torn down, construction fencing and trailers appeared, long established patterns changed and the new structure took place.” She continues, “This was all happening during the High School accreditation process which many thought would not be successful because of renovation concerns and in turn was highly successful bringing the school to a new level of high standards. This followed the previous accreditation 10 years earlier with results not positive for MHS. Also during Jim’s tenure the high school graduation rate has improved by 6 points.” We wish Mr. Giuca well in his retirement from Methuen Schools.

Replacing Jim Giuca will not be easy. The Superintendent will be setting up a search/interview committee consisting of: 1 parent of a high school student, 1 school (MHS) site council member, 3 teachers, 2 administrators, 1 school committee member, and 1 community member.

I will be posting this position on School Spring at the end of this week. The goal is to have someone in place for July 1, 2015.

Finally, last month I wrote extensively regarding technological advances taking place in Methuen Schools. It should be noted that in December, the MHS Network Manager worked with a vendor to add a newer feature for high school photocopying machines – the ability to print documents from mobile devices and laptop computers. According to Director of Instructional Technology Ed Lussier, “Students will be able to send documents from their IPads to the photocopier in the MHS Media Center. Students can then go to the copier, enter a unique code, and their documents will print for them.” Students will begin utilizing this feature at the end of January.

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).