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November 5, 2013

Newcomers Beshara, Sweet, Deeb win seats

Fawcett, Kumm, Vogler re-elected

METHUEN — The School Committee will have another new majority in January as three newcomers won election while all three incumbents were retained.

Richard Beshara, a former principal, Bryan Sweet, an administrator at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dennis “D.J.” Deeb, a teacher, won half of the six seats on the committee. The three incumbents, Mary Jean Fawcett, Lynne Hajjar Kumm and Robert Vogler, will return for another term.

“I’m very happy voters saw the value of parents’ perspectives,” said Kumm, who won a second term. “I’m very happy to be rewarded with a new term.”

Sweet said he wanted to revive the consolidation committee, which is made of School Committee members and City Councilors and is reviewing places to consolidate city and school functions to save money. That committee’s work stalled this spring when former School Committee member Mark Graziano, a school business manager, resigned from the School Committee because he moved to Salem, N.H.

“There are areas where we can make sensible consolidations in the budget,” Sweet said, and the saved money saved can be used for enrichment programs.

Deeb, a former Dracut School Committee member who moved to Methuen two years ago, said he wanted the School Department to create a capital improvement plan. “We don’t have that yet. And if something happens, we have to go back and ask taxpayers for money,” he said.

Beshara, who retired in June as principal of Marsh Grammar School, said the committee will need to keep working to improve MCAS scores throughout the district and boost literacy especially among the youngest students. “Why aren’t our students achieving benchmark (in reading) and what is causing that? We need to do a lot of analyzing,” he said.

Vogler, a longtime committee member who was appointed in May to finish Graziano’s term, said the school district is moving forward and seeing substantial gains in MCAS scores.

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