By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — Two expiring contracts and one expiring building.
New School Committee President Paul Magliocchetti said his top priorities in the coming year are starting discussions with Superintendent James Scully and the teachers union on new contracts for each, and making progress toward replacing Hunking Middle School with a new school in Bradford.
“It’s a critical year,” said Magliocchetti, who was unanimously elected last week by his colleagues to succeed Susan Danehy as committee president. “Both the teachers and the superintendent contracts expire next year, so it’s important we start those discussions this year.”
Magliocchetti, a local lawyer and first-term School Committee member who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in the fall, said he believes Scully is open to staying on as school chief beyond next school year.
“As far as I know, he’s happy and wants to stay, but I haven’t discussed an extension with him,” Magliocchetti said. “Either way, we have to find out what direction we are going in before the end of this year.”
Scully, 65, a former Lawrence school superintendent and Consentino Middle School principal, came out of retirement 2-1/2 years ago to serve as Haverhill’s interim superintendent. Six months later he was given the permanent job and then a controversial pay raise from $150,000 to $185,000 per year. Since then, committee members have praised his performance and credited him for many changes and improvements in the district.
The current teachers’ contract, inked in summer 2011 after five years of contentious negotiations, expires in June 2014.
The School Committee, under the leadership of its president, is responsible for hiring and evaluating the superintendent and negotiating and approving teacher contracts. It will also play a key role in the campaign to build a new Hunking School.
In October 2011, half of the Hunking building was closed after problems were discovered with a section of the foundation that raised fears a portion of the building would collapse. Repairs were made last summer and are expected to make the building safe for at least four years. In the meantime, plans are in the works to build a new school with a mix of state and local money. A study to determine the location, design, cost and size of the new school recently got underway.
Other important issues this year, Magliocchetti said, include improving MCAS scores and school security.
“MCAS and student achievement is always going to require a lot of attention,” Magliocchetti said. “And school security is going to be huge issue this year in light of events around the country.”
The main duties and powers of the School Committee president include setting the meeting agenda, appointing members to subcommittees and running meetings when the mayor, who is chairman, is not in attendance. The president also communicates between the committee and the superintendent. Informally, the president’s role is to build consensus on issues.
School Committee member Raymond Sierpina, the former principal of Tilton Elementary School, was elected vice president last week.