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May 3, 2013

Sweet plans to run for Methuen School Committee

METHUEN — Local political leader Bryan Sweet announced yesterday he plans to make a run at a School Committee that will see at leas half of its members change after the November election.

Sweet joins parent Jeri-an Batal as the two non-incumbents who have declared their candidacies, while former committee member Robert Vogler has said he is leaning strongly toward running for a two-year term.

“The number one far and way topic is the high school,” Sweet said. “That’s what everybody seems to be concerned with right now, which is fantastic to think so many people are interested.”

Sweet is chairman of the Methuen Democratic City Committee and a member of the Building Committee overseeing the $98 million high school renovation project. He manages grants and contracts for Massachusetts General Hospital.

The high school project is so important because he said the new building could be “life changing” for the kids. “Just putting walls on the classrooms will make a world of difference for the students,” he said.

Sweet pointed to his work chasing grants and managing budgets and contracts for Mass. General and to his work on the Building Committee as top qualifications for dealing with school budget issues.

“We’re going to have to figure out ways to continue to be a successful school district with the amount of funding we have as we move forward with an academic plan and the changes at the high school, moving classes further into the 21st century,” he said. “We have to figure all that out, how to do that with the same amount of funding.”

Batal, who ran unsuccessfully for the committee in 2009 and 2011, said she wanted to ensure the schools and classrooms had enough funding, and that special needs programs are robust.

“My reasons are the same, for the kids,” she said. “We need to go back to basic elementary education, and all the special needs departments need everything they’re not getting. I don’t think any child should be left without services.”

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