EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 9, 2013

Eleven enter race for School Committee

METHUEN — The list of potential School Committee candidates has expanded to nearly a dozen, with a former principal, the husband of a current member and two men in their 20s jumping into the mix.

Eleven candidates have pulled nomination papers for the six School Committee seats up for election Nov. 5. Three are incumbents, though one was just appointed to fill out the remainder of a former member’s term.

A few familiar names decided to run. Dennis “D.J.” Deeb, 36, who ran unsuccessfully in 2011 for the Greater Lawrence Technical School board, is gathering signatures. Deeb, who moved to Methuen in 2011 and had served on the Dracut School Committee and the Greater Lowell Technical School board, said he wants the school district to improve its graduation rate and implement a capital improvement plan.

“We’re trying to keep the tax rate low. We can’t keep going to the taxpayers asking for increases when we have capital improvement needs,” he said. “We need to develop a long term plan.”

He suggested creating and expanding summer programs to boost graduation and applauded the high school’s Advanced Placement course offering.

Richard Beshara, 59, just stepped down as supervising principal of Marsh Grammar School and had no intention of fading into retirement. He said in an interview in April and in another yesterday that he wanted to stay involved in Methuen Public Schools.

“I’ll have more time, now that I’m at retired and not working full time, to put into the position,” he said. “I’ve proven myself as a leader of Marsh Grammar School.”

Beshara, a Methuen native who graduated from Tenney High School in 1971, said he is “not running against anybody” and wanted to focus on the budget and make sure the schools follow through on new initiatives like student deans and literacy tutors.

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