DANVERS — School Committee Chairman Eric Crane once served on the same school board at the same time as a person vying for one of two seats in Tuesday’s election, Jack Billings.
Crane, 53, a near lifelong resident, is the longest-serving member of the present School Committee, but back in 2000, he was the newbie, and Billings was not that far behind. Billings, an educator by profession, had been elected that May and Crane, who is also an attorney, was appointed in October 2000 to fill out a vacancy. Billings would go on to serve one term. Crane has been on the board ever since.
If Crane and Billings win in a three-way race for two seats, which includes a challenge by town political newcomer Jeff Kay, Billings and Crane would be going back to the future.
“We didn’t always agree on everything, but by and large it was OK,” said Crane, a former Town Meeting member, of his time with Billings on the school board. “I worked with Jack as well as anybody on the School Committee.”
It was just after the first debt exclusion for the high school failed, Crane said. During his first years on the School Committee, the attacks of Sept. 11 happened, the economy went into a tailspin, and the board had to make tough decisions on its budget.
“We had financial challenges,” Crane said, “and those were the first years the MCAS test became a requirement for graduation.”
The year after he was appointed, Crane ran in 2001 to fill out the remainder of Charlie Trasher’s term through 2002.
He then had to run again for re-election in 2002. He won again in 2005, 2008 and 2011.
During his tenure, the town has renovated the Holten Richmond Middle School, and, most recently, renovated Danvers High in a $70 million project.