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Peabody's Stone named Dracut superintendent

Posted by Marcia Dick  June 14, 2012 09:55 AM

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After spending nearly six hours interviewing the four finalists for the district’s top job, the Dracut School Committee on Wednesday named the town’s former director of special education, Steven Stone, the next superintendent of schools.

Stone is currently completing his second year as director of special education for the Peabody public schools. He has a three-year contract and will need to negotiate an early release from Peabody, said Michael F. McNamara, chairman of the Dracut School Committee.

“Each candidate brought their own unique professional experience and skill set to the interview platform,” said McNamara. “At the end of the process, it was Stone's strong interview and prior central office experience in Dracut [that was] the winning combination.”

The board’s decision was unanimous. Stone, who had worked in the district's central office for five years until 2010, is now in contract negotiations with the five-member School Committee. He will replace Stacy L. Scott, who is leaving the district June 30 to lead the public schools in Framingham.

During the interview process, Stone, 47, indicated that he wanted to stay at the helm of Dracut’s 4,000-student district until his retirement. He also pledged to be open and direct during his tenure in Dracut.

Stone's commitment to transparency comes as the school system faces deep cuts. Fifty-four positions, including 10 percent of the district’s teachers, are being laid off as of June 30 in an effort to balance the books for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 

In addition to scrutinizing the district’s budget, the School Committee is expecting Stone to quickly hire a new business manager and special education supervisor to replace personnel leaving the district. The new leadership team will oversee the $59.96 million  renovation of Dracut High School.

This is the second time in three months that the Dracut School Committee has offered Stone the superintendent’s position. A deeply divided School Committee, with a 3-2 vote, offered him a contract in March, but the offer was rescinded after the board was rebuked by local residents for its failure to open the process to other candidates.

Subsequently, a 13-member screening committee was formed, consisting of Selectman George A. Malliaros, School Committee member Joseph Wilkie, students, parents, administrators, and teachers. That committee recommended four finalists. The others were Southbridge superintendent Eric Ely; David Fischer, former superintendent of the Bellingham public schools; and Linda Arsenault, principal of the Douglas Waybright Elementary School in Saugus. 

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