, Salem, MA

October 23, 2013

Decker seeks continuity for School Committee

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — BEVERLY — With a new superintendent to be hired and the mayor leaving, School Committee President Maria Decker is hoping to continue helping the school district move forward on major projects.

“There is a need for continuity with some of the projects, like the middle school,” she said.

Decker, 53, who has served on the School Committee for four two-year terms, said she’ll continue to bring passion, knowledge, a strong work ethic, and an even and calm temperament to the committee.

“I have an open and collaborative approach to expand opportunities for all students,” she said. “Bottom line for me is it’s all about the students.”

She said the hiring of a new superintendent and building a new middle school are the biggest issues facing the district. The new school will be built at the site of the former Memorial Middle School, with a September 2017 targeted opening date. The process to move the new school forward has been made public at many meetings, in the annual report, newsletters and the media, Decker said.

Decker said she is heading up the search for the new superintendent, which will include representation from parents and community members, teachers, administrators and School Committee members.

“It is huge,” she said of the task ahead. “School committees are tasked with three major functions, one of which is choosing a superintendent.”

Decker said she supports a proposal to bring fifth-graders to the new middle school, with fifth- and sixth-graders being in one “house” and seventh- and eighth-graders in another, but no decision has been made. The switch would provide expanded opportunities to students, such as band and sciences, she said.

MARIA DECKER Address: 11 Wentworth St. Age: 53 Occupation: Teaches health science at North Shore Community College and Marian Court College Education: Beverly High School; bachelor's degree in biology, Stonehill College; master's degree in health administration from Northeastern University Family: Husband, Dave; three children, ages 25, 23 and 17 Community involvement: Incorporator and director of Build a Better Beverly Foundation, board member of Centerville Improvement Society, secretary of High School PTSO Pastime: Kayaking and gardening