EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 30, 2012

Merrimack Valley Year in Review


Former School Superintendent Wilfredo T. Laboy was sentenced to 90 days in jail after being convicted on several corruption charges. Witnesses testified at his eight-day trial in March that he used district personnel and resources for personal errands like driving his son around or retrieving trash from his home. He eventually served 60 days, getting 30 days off for good behavior.

In mid-January, the state hired Superintendent/Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley to run the school system and manage its finances, working at the behest of state Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.

At the same time, the seven-member School Committee had been stripped of its powers under the state takeover. But Riley suggested they can still play a valuable role as “ambassadors” — keeping the community informed about what’s going on inside the schools.

Riley embarked on a number of measures, including a rigorous review of educators designed to weed out bad teachers or put them on improvement plans. He also hired several outside agencies that run charter schools to run the city’s worst performing schools.

— Mark Vogler

Methuen gets

new mayor

Stephen Zanni was sworn in as William Manzi’s successor Jan. 2. Two days later, Mayor Zanni told The Eagle-Tribune he would closely consider outsourcing the four-employee municipal Information Technology department.

Zanni’s push for IT privatization endured several ups and downs in 2012. After initial rejection from the City Council, he formed an IT subcommittee and with the help of councilors tried again. The issue won’t be decided until early next year.

Zanni took office in January alongside new city councilors Jamie Atkinson, Michael Condon, Thomas Ciulla, Lisa Ferry, Sean Fountain and Ron Marsan and new School Committee members Mary Jean Fawcett, Mark Graziano, Lynne Hajjar Kumm and Deborah Quinn.

All of their two-year terms expire at the end of 2013. Zanni announced Oct. 5 he will run for a second term. Days later, City Council Chairwoman Jennifer Kannan confirmed she will consider challenging Zanni for mayor next fall.

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