Since then, the School Department has adopted an Accelerated Improvement Plan and made a number of changes at schools across the city, even adding an hour to the school day at Bentley. While there are signs of progress at several schools, Bentley, so far, has shown little improvement in MCAS scores.
Against that backdrop, a strong field of candidates, arguably the strongest in several years, stepped forward to challenge the three incumbents.
The most surprising entry was Hunt, 40, a former teacher at Collins Middle School who founded the Salem Academy Charter school 10 years ago and has served ever since as head of school. She even checked out her candidacy with the state Ethics Commission to make sure it was not a conflict for the head of an independent public charter school, which has its own board of trustees, to serve as a School Committee member for the district school system.
This election also comes only months after the school board voted to end the extended-year schedule at the Saltonstall School, a controversial move that put a spotlight — some might say a target — on Walsh, 65, and Crane, 69, two incumbents who voted to eliminate the additional 10 days from Saltonstall’s schedule at a time when the school system was looking to expand student learning time.
Two Saltonstall parents, Rick Johnson, 41, and Katie Casiglia, 37, entered the race. Casiglia lost in the preliminary election in September. Johnson came in fourth in yesterday’s voting. Both said the Saltonstall vote was not their primary reason for running.
Schultz, 50, also was seen as a strong candidate, having taught at Salem High, served as a department chairman and assistant principal at Chelsea High, and spent three years at Mass Insight, a nonprofit that worked to increase the number of students taking challenging Advanced Placement courses.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.