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News

DeRuosi’s Report Card

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School Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi earns “proficient” grade in first year evaluation by School Committee

All things considered, Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi, Jr. received an outstanding report card from School Committee members in his first evaluation since taking charge of the town’s public school system more than a year ago. In a summary report approved at a brief meeting Monday night, the committee voted 4-0 to accept an evaluation that concluded DeRuosi was “proficient” in four standards encompassing 13 professional practice goals the committee set for him.

School Committee Member Arthur Grabowski missed the session because he was on a vacation day. But his evaluation was considered along with those of his colleagues in a composite score that gave the superintendent an average of 3.8 in assessing progress toward meeting professional practice goals.

“If you were going to give it a numerical grade, I’d say he was in the high B range – maybe a B-plus,” member Linda Gaieski told The Saugus Advocate after the meeting. “I think he did a very good job,” she said.

The End-of-Cycle Summative Evaluation Report, which was compiled by School Committee Chair Jeannie Meredith, considered each of the four standards on a 1 to 5 scale, ranging from “did not meet” to “exceeded.” The numerical evaluation also measured “some progress,” 2; “significant progress,” 3; and “met,” 4.

DeRuosi received a “proficient” rating in meeting the four professional practice goals: instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture. The “proficient” rating means “professional practice is understood to be fully satisfactory.” “This is the rigorous expected level of performance,” according to the methodology for interpreting the evaluation.

DeRuosi gave himself the same “proficient” assessment in self-evaluation of meeting professional practice goals. (See related story.)

Praise and constructive criticism

“A rating of Exemplary indicates that practice significantly exceeds Proficient and could serve as a model of practice regionally or statewide,” according to instructions noted on the form prepared by the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

The “proficient” evaluation scored by the five-member committee was supported by evaluator comments compiled by Meredith. Much of the comments included praise for DeRuosi, who assumed control of a school district rated by the state as “Level 3,” a designation for the lowest performing 20 percent of school districts in Massachusetts. “Dr. DeRuosi has managed to bring leadership to the District which has been noticeably lacking in past administrations,” the committee noted in its composite comments prepared by Meredith.

“He was an instrumental member of the New School Building Committee team that disseminated the information and facts to the community enabling them to make a well informed, educated and overwhelming decision on the need for a new school,” the committee chair noted in summarizing members’ remarks.

“It should be noted that Superintendent DeRuosi has demonstrated an outstanding work ethic in his mission to accomplish the extremely ambitious 13 goals set before him by the School Committee,” the summary said. “On conclusion, Dr. DeRuosi’s overall aggregate evaluation rating is Proficient.”

In addition, the summary recommended ways for the superintendent to improve his overall performance:

• “We would like to see more superintendent visibility in all schools.

• Standard and uniform protocol for school visitation needs to be enforced to ensure the safety of students and staff in ALL School buildings.

• Dr. DeRuosi needs to continue to work on supervision, evaluation, culture, curriculum assessment and climate in the Saugus Public Schools.

• Would like to see support of existing initiatives as well as the formulation of aggressive wellness initiative addressing the social and emotional wellness of our student body.”


“A work in progress”

While praising DeRuosi for his first year at the helm, Gaieski called his overall performance “a work in progress.”

“I look forward to him working with us and I see more advancement next year,” Gaieski said in an interview after the meeting. “His job is by no means done – as the Carpenters’ song goes, ‘We’ve only just begun,’” she said.

“But the man clearly did his due diligence this year. There are some things that I’m not thoroughly satisfied – like the writing program … He found the most success in improving the operation aspects. Now, I expect he’s going to get down to the nuts and bolts of improving the school district,” she said.

School Committee Vice-Chair Peter Manoogian said DeRuosi’s performance was impressive in many ways, considering “there were so many operational issues that had to be tackled.”

“He did deal with two of the chronically troublesome fiscal matters that have been plaguing the school district over the years,” Manoogian said, referring to the lack of financial controls on the food service and athletic departments – issues that were the subject of audits and measures to curb poor fiscal management early in DeRuosi’s administration.

“But we do need more communication from the superintendent. We need reports from him on problems he sees and steps he’s taking to correct them,” said Manoogian.

Gaieski said the superintendent’s “biggest accomplishment” during his first year was “educating the town” on the school district’s need for a new combination Middle-High School to be built at the current site of the Saugus High School, which has been in danger of losing its accreditation in recent years.

More than 70 percent of the nearly 5,000 voters who went to the polls in June favored a new $160.7 million Middle-High School built to accommodate 1,360 students in grades 6 through 12. Recent reimbursement amounts range from 40 percent to 57.2 percent, based on documents provided by the state. The project, which the town initially said would be eligible for a minimum 53 percent reimbursement by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, includes a multipurpose athletic field and track.

A second ballot question that supported $25 million for a District-Wide Master Plan Solution that includes the renovation and improvement at the Belmonte Middle School (which will house grades 3-5) and Veterans Memorial School (Pre-K) also passed by a resounding 69 percent. The town will not receive any reimbursement for that project.

By Mark E. Vogler

 

Riding for three

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Saugus’s Ashley Bottoms said she will be thinking of three people she lost to cancer when she hops on her bicycle for this weekend’s Pan-Mass Challenge

Ashley Bottoms said she took up cycling about four years ago as a way to lose weight. But on Sunday, the 49-year-old Saugus resident said, she will be riding for three important people in her life – all in the same family – who lost their lives to cancer.

Bottoms is one of five Saugus residents who will be pedaling this weekend in several different rides as part of this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC). She’ll be among more than 6,000 cyclists from 41 states and eight countries who will be riding to raise money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The bike-a-thon, which was founded in 1980, raised more than $47 million last year as riders from age 15 to 84 participated.

“One morning in 2014, while riding my route a complete stranger, who just happened to also be a cyclist and has done the PMC himself, approached me and suggested I try riding for the PMC,” recalled Bottoms, who is preparing for her second consecutive PMC ride.

“I am transgender – male to female – and lost my best friend, Caroline Stone, also transgender, to stage 4 colon cancer in 2013, and saw this as an opportunity to both honor her and contribute something I am good at to a great cause,” Bottoms said.

“I also ride in honor of my girlfriend’s [Stone’s] father, Richard Touchette, who passed away from cancer six years ago,” she said.

Honoring their memories

Stone died five days after her 41st birthday. Her dad passed away from cancer two years earlier, according to Bottoms. “Both Caroline and Richard were very important people in our lives, so I ride in honor of their memories,” she said.

“Now, just this February, Caroline’s sister Victoria passed as well … If this has taught me anything, it is that cancer can strike any one of us at any time. But I also came to realize that together we can make a difference to create a positive change for all of us!” she said.

Bottoms is a local radio personality and former activist for trans-equality, and adds that she has “lost my fair share of friends and family to cancer – including my uncles Ed and John.”

“I’ll be riding the Sunday one-day Wellesley-to-Wellesley course. It begins at Babson College, goes to Gillette Stadium and then back to Babson College,” Bottoms said. “The entire ride is just under 48 miles. Last year, with designated pit stops, it took me about six hours to complete. I am hoping to do it in five [hours] this year.”

A 1985 Chelsea High School graduate, she has lived in Saugus the last 14 years.

She is proud of her past advocacy for transgender rights. “I am transgender [male to female] and believe that I may be the first openly transgendered rider with PMC,” Bottoms said.

“I am very comfortable in my skin with being transgender. I actually don’t do much advocacy any longer … But I did have a huge role in fighting against trans-discrimination a few years back, and have been on radio shows, like Dan Rea’s ‘NightSide,’ Jon ‘Keller At Large’ and ‘Loren and Wally Morning Show’ to talk about it,” she said.

The Pan-Mass Challenge is one of two bike rides for cancer research that Bottoms will take part in as a rider this year. On September 17, she will also be riding 25 miles for “A Reason to Ride” in Danvers, to raise funds for cancer research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Other Saugonians share cancer stories

Like virtually all of the PMC participants who will be hopping on bicycles tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 5) and Sunday (Aug. 6), John Mallette is dedicating his ride to a loved who has been battling cancer or lost the battle to the dreaded disease. “I made the commitment last August to ride in the PMC in honor of my sister-in-law Kathy, who has [battled] lung cancer since April 2015.”

Mallette, 63, said of his first PMC ride – a 25-mile trip on Sunday from Wellesley to Patriot Place in Foxborough – “As of July 20th, 2017, I change my reason to in memory of. Kathy lost her battle,” he told The Saugus Advocate.

Kathy grew up in Saugus and was a member of the Saugus High School Class of 1971, he noted.

“Watching her fight to overcome this disease the last several years has inspired me to help raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to help find a cure for all cancers,” Mallette wrote on his website recently. “In fact, last year 100% of rider-raised revenue went directly to support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s tireless commitment to finding a cure,” he said.

Three other Saugus residents have posted their intentions on the PMC website:

• Lori Mackey, who will be riding 25 miles on Sunday from Wellesley to Patriot Place.

“For the second year, I will help tackle cancer one mile at a time and join hundreds of other cyclists in the 38th Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC),” Mackey wrote.

“Cancer is still a terrible disease. Each year we seem to be impacted by it more and more. There’s not one person in my life that hasn’t been touched by this horrific disease in one way or another, myself included. Watching someone fight cancer is something I hope becomes a thing of the past, and I’m doing everything I can to help find a cure,” she said.

• Andrew Cacciola, who will be taking the two-day ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown Inn. “I’m a proud supporter of the PMC because it is leading a charge to beat cancer,” Cacciola wrote on the PMC website.

“In fact, last year 100 percent of rider-raised revenue went directly to support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s tireless commitment to finding a cure,” he said.

• Chelsea Phelps, the subject of a cover story in last week’s Saugus Advocate, will be taking the two-day ride from Wellesley to Provincetown. Phelps said originally she hadn’t planned on riding this year and was going to volunteer instead at the Dighton Rehoboth lunch stop.

“A few weeks ago right around Christmas, we found out that my aunt, who has been volunteering for the past few years, has breast cancer. I registered to ride. This year’s for her fight!,” Phelps declared.

“I ride because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t ride, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I ride harder for them. I know they would do the same for me,” she said

For more details about Pan-Mass Challenge, go to the website http://www.pmc.org/.

By Mark E. Vogler

   

A ride to help young lives

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Raising youth awareness about the dangers of substance abuse is the mission of the First Annual Saugus Ride

A while back, Dana Gould said, he put out a post on Facebook seeking motorcyclists he could ride with – people who had never ridden with him before. Gould, 55, who grew up on Lincoln Avenue in Saugus, moved away from town about 16 years ago and now lives about 100 miles away in Parsonsfield, Maine. The idea he planted back in the spring has grown into a bigger ride than he ever expected – one that has drawn him closer to the people of his hometown in a common cause: to educate Saugus youths about the dangers of substance abuse.

“The original thought was to go for a ride with a few people,” Gould told The Saugus Advocate in a telephone interview this week. Instead, he and a small committee of friends continue to make plans for the First Annual Saugus Ride – a 63-mile ride on Aug. 12 through about a dozen North Shore communities to raise money to support education and youth awareness programs about substance abuse.

“I have a feeling we’re going to get well over 100 motorcycles there. One hundred motorcycles is almost a mile long when you stretch it out,” Gould said.

“When people hear 100 motorcycles go through their town, they want to know what the heck it’s about. And we want to tell them it’s about substance abuse … One of the things we laid our hearts on was substance abuse awareness, because a few of us are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction,” he said.

“We want to let people know the committee is passionate about our charity, as we’ve all been affected by the disease of addiction, some of us through the deaths of family members and friends. So we’d like to try to help out on this. The easiest way to start is by teaching our kids so they may not start.”


Teaming up with the town

Gould initially met with Ann Blake and John Delello at Kowloon Restaurant. The group eventually expanded to include Karlene Fleuriel, Tammy Surette, Patti Davis and Kevin Raiche. Raiche is an officer in the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association. Most of the organizers are Saugus High School graduates. Gould is a 1979 graduate of Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield.

They already have a special logo for the event – a motorcycle which sports the Sachem logo – which was designed by Sachem Signworks Inc. “We’re doing bandanas, too,” Gould said. “The riders will be wearing white bandanas with red lettering with the Saugus Ride logo.”

Gould credited three people in particular with working closely with the Saugus Ride Committee – Youth & Recreation Department Director Greg Nickolas, School Committee Chairman Jeannie Meredith and Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “We thank them for helping us to provide this charitable event,” Gould said.

“The biggest thanks has to go to the town in the way this thing has come together. The school is on board. The town is on board. They’re totally supporting what we’re doing … All of the area police departments are very supportive of our endeavor, too,” he said.

The route that the motorcyclists will be taking will pass through about a dozen North Shore communities, including Saugus, Wakefield, Reading, North Reading, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Lynn, Lynnfield, Middleton and Peabody. “There will be a stop at Richardson’s Ice Cream on Route 114 in Middleton,” Gould said.

The final destination is O’Brien’s Pub, 829 Boston St. at the Saugus/Lynn line. “At O’Brien’s, we will have a cookout and band – the Boston Pub Rockers, a Boston classic rock and Southern rock band. Two of the members are Saugus guys,” Gould said.

Saugus, of course, will be the starting point for the ride, which will kick off in the parking lot of Saugus High School at 10 a.m. on Aug. 12. Registration will take place from 8:30 to 9:30 that morning.

“If the weather is good, we could get 200 people … If the weather is bad, we could only have eight people. But it’s a rain or shine event, so we’re going to see what happens,” Gould said.

If you want to join Saugus Ride

What: The First Annual Saugus Ride.

Purpose: Motorcycle Run dedicated to the Education and prevention of Substance Abuse. All profits will be directed to the Saugus School District for the express purpose of funding education/prevention program in the Saugus Schools.

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 12.

Cost: $25 per bike, $10 per passenger.

Admission fee: $10 at door for non-ride participant for after-ride cookout and party at O’Brien’s Pub, 829 Boston St., Lynn on Saugus/Lynn line – raffles, food and entertainment by Boston Pub Rockers.

Registration: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Saugus High School.

Kickstands up: 10 a.m.

Preregistration and donations: can be made at https;//www.Saugusride.wordpress.com,

a PayPal portal that takes credit cards.

**Like us on Facebook – Saugus Ride**

By Mark E. Vogler

   

A pay increase request

Superintendent DeRuosi calls for meeting with School Committee to consider making athletic director full-time job

The School Committee has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday to consider whether to make the athletic director’s position a full time job.

A meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Aug. 8) at the request of Saugus Public Schools Superintendent David DeRuosi Jr., who is recommending that the position be returned to a full-time position, as it was several years ago.

“Due to a level of ambiguity at our last meeting on June 22, 2017, while it was discussed to provide for a 1.0 FTE, it was never changed in our budget,” DeRuosi advised School Committee members in an email this week.

“Based on the last time Saugus had a full time AD the salary was $72,000. I believe this position, with a full time clerk, should range from $65,000-$72,000 based on experience. It is fair salary,” he said.

The superintendent has requested that committee members consider one of two options:

• Either a half-time position for athletic director or a full-time position.

• A salary: $72,000-$65,000 if the position if the committee votes to make the position full-time, or $32,500-$36,000 if it remains a half-time position.

“While I will still recommend a 1.0 FTE for this position, which reflects the NESDEC Report sanctioned by this committee, and I believe a full time AD will better serve the students in the district, I am prepared to respond to either vote of this committee,” DeRuosi advised the committee.

The superintendent also thanked the committee for “the favorable review in my evaluation.”

I believe as a School Committee and superintendent we did a great amount of good work which ended in a historical vote in June to build a brighter future for this community,” DeRuosi said.

“We need to keep this goal of building a better district in our line of vision moving forward,” he said.

 

Pay raise for current committee member?

DeRuosi noted a vote “is needed to move forward on the AD position.”

The agenda posted for Tuesday night’s meeting by School Committee Chair Jeanie Meredith notes that public comment will be taken on the proposal and “action is needed” regarding the athletic director.

DeRuosi’s request comes at a time that one of the committee’s members -- Elizabeth Marchese -- is being considered for the position.

Marchese -- who previously applied for the position four years ago before she was elected -- said she has an opinion from the state Ethics Commission that she’s done nothing improper or illegal.

“I made sure it was appropriate before I applied,” Marchese told The Saugus Advocate yesterday.

“When Mike Nelson gave his notice, the first thing I did -- I went to the Ethics Commission to see if it was appropriate. And then I got the decision and asked them to write me an official position,” she said.

Nelson, the former Saugus High School’s Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, resigned at the end of June to become the new Athletic Director at Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover.

The position that Nelson had been doing on a half-time basis was increased to a full-time position in the July 5 job posting. But a vote by the School Committee is needed to make it official, according to DeRuosi.

Marchese, who is completing the final year of first two-year term, confirmed that she recently applied for the position and was interviewed last week by a screening committee that began meeting with applicants.

“I applied before in 2013 when Rob O’Leary got the job,” Marchese said.

Marchese provided a copy of the state Ethics Commission opinion to The Saugus Advocate.

“Nothing in the conflict of interest law prohibits you from serving on the School Committee at the same time you are applying for the position of Athletic Director for the Saugus Public Schools,” Ethics Commission staff attorney Amy Nee wrote Marchese in an email dated July 20.

Nee noted that a provision of the Conflict of Interest Law requires a member of a municipal board to resign from the board in order to be eligible for a position which the board both appoints and supervises. That provision also requires the remaining board members to wait 30 days after the board member resigned before considering the board member’s application.

“This provision does not apply to you under the circumstances you have described. The School Committee does not appoint or supervise the Athletic Director,” Nee wrote in her opinion.

“The Superintendent or possibly a principal has these responsibilities. Consequently, the conflict of interest law does not require you to resign from your School Committee position while you apply for the Athletic Director position,” Nee said.

By Mark E. Vogler

   

Town Finance Committee seeks volunteers

The Town Moderator is seeking volunteers interested in serving on the Town’s Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is responsible for making recommendations on all warrant items involving the expenditure of Town funds to the members of Town Meeting. Interested citizens should submit a brief statement of interest and qualifications to Moderator Steve Doherty either by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail to Saugus Town Clerk’s Office – ATTN.: Town Moderator, 298 Central St., Ste 7, Saugus, MA 01906. Submissions should be received by August 16 for consideration for the coming term.

 

   

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