Methuen Schools Are Moving Forward But Budget Poses a Challenge

methuen-tawn-hallBy: D.J. Deeb – April, 2014

METHUEN– Members of the Methuen School Committee have been working very hard along with Superintendent Judy Scannell and her Administrative Team to make positive changes for Methuen’s Schools. Team work, open communication, and dedication have made it possible to benefit Methuen’s students.

Since honestly taking office as a member of the Methuen School Committee in January, I can honestly say that it has been a pleasure working with my colleagues Mary Jean Fawcett, Rick Beshara, Bryan Sweet, Bob Vogler, Lynn Hajjar Kumm, and Mayor Steve Zanni. Although we do not always agree we can agree to disagree when necessary and the whole Board works together with the best interests of the students of Methuen in mind.

There are many exciting things that Methuen students can look forward to. First off, the Methuen High School Renovation project will be completed soon and students will be able to take advantage of a state-of-the-art building facility when the new school year begins in the fall. The new building eliminates the failed open concept model of teaching and affords classroom space for teachers to instruct and students to learn without being distracted by other classes around them.

Recently, the Methuen School Committee voted to approve the new High School Program of Studies, which contains a new elective course, 21st Century Skills. The course is designed to help struggling and at-risk students improve performance on standardized tests and we hope this will help to increase Methuen’s MCAS and SAT scores. Also, at the High School, the School Committee voted to implement the Administration’s recommendations to add themed Physical Education course electives to give students more options to fulfill their Physical Education requirements. All of these options will be available beginning in the Fall 2014. In addition, the School Committee has supported the implementation of Saturday detentions to address student discipline problems at the High School.

Finally, students in grades 5-12 can look forward to a new Methuen Crew Program. Methuen Public Schools and Essex Rowing Club, Inc. have partnered to form Methuen Crew, a scholastic rowing and sculling team for Methuen Athletes grades 5 through 12. The season will run through the end of May with practice right after school and competition beginning in late April. For more information visit is just another option for young Methuen athletes to take part in.

Over the next several weeks, members of the Methuen School Committee will work on a budget for Fiscal year 2015 that addresses the needs of Methuen’s students while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers at the same time. There are some very important issues that need to be resolved. The School Committee was recently informed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that the City of Methuen is not meeting the state requirements for net school spending. This means that state reimbursements to Methuen schools could be in jeopardy. The City Auditor and Mayor Zanni have been made aware of the situation. Acting Methuen Schools Business Manager Frank Antonelli has been doing a great job uncovering deficiencies. The Mayor and City Council are going to have to address this problem in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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).