TEWKSBURY — The School Committee met last week for a reorganization meeting before resuming regular business.
Superintendent Chris Malone opened the meeting. He announced that chairperson Dennis Francis had resigned from the committee effective July 24, 2019. Vice chair Keith Sullivan was nominated and unanimously voted in as the new chair.
“Thank you to my fellow School Committee members for their faith and confidence,” said Sullivan. “I certainly look forward to serving the residents in the position of chairman as thoughtfully and diligently as my predecessor.”
Board member Jamie Cutelis was selected as vice chair, and Shannon Demos was selected as clerk.
“On behalf of the School Committee and the administration both past and present, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Francis for his over 20 years of dedicated service to the Tewksbury Public Schools system,” said Sullivan. “Whether it was starting in his work in the PACs, or most recently in the last decade that he served on the School Committee, Dennis was an honorable and decent man. He always did what was best for our students. Not only his commitment to lowering the classroom sizes to under 25, but his tireless work on the high school building committee and the new elementary school will have a long-lasting effect on our community and will only help improve achievement throughout the district. So please, if you see Mr. Francis in a store, on Veterans Day, or Memorial Day, please thank him not only for his dedicated service to his country but for helping this school district be a better place.”
Malone outlined the courses of action to address the new vacancy on the committee: the Board of Selectmen may independently call for a special election; the School Committee can vote to request a joint meeting with the selectmen to vote to select an individual to fill the vacancy until the next town election; or the School Committee can take no action and the selectmen may make the appointment.
The committee voted to request to take joint action with the selectmen. Francis’ resignation also leaves a vacancy on the Elementary School Building Committee, which he chaired. The task of replacing the chair falls to the ESBC; however, the School Committee is responsible for having a representative on the board. Shannon Demos was selected as the new ESBC representative.
Resuming the regular meeting, the committee recognized the contributions of community partners in the district. STEM coordinator Jason Stamp spoke about grant contributions received from the Corning Foundation, a non-profit entity sponsored by Corning Incorporated. Corning’s life sciences division is based in Tewksbury. He described upgrades to science spaces in the lower elementary schools made possible through the funding.
Malone announced that following the proposed state budget passing in the House and Senate, school funding is expected to increase in the next several years. He also introduced a new district phone app designed to improve parent communication. Business manager Dave Libby outlined capital improvement projects throughout the district going on during the summer, including security camera upgrades, boiler system improvements, and new landscaping. He also described new water bottle filling stations at TMHS.
In old business, the committee voted to approve the 2019-2020 TMHS out-of-state athletic travel request.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14, 2019.