, Salem, MA

Local News

September 4, 2013

Johnson: School board needs change

Part of a series of profiles of Salem School Committee candidates in the Sept. 17 preliminary election, which will whittle the eight candidates down to two for the final election in November.

SALEM — Rick Johnson is running for School Committee because he feels he has the professional skills and background to make a difference for a school system in the midst of a turnaround.

“I’ve been part of project management and change management,” said Johnson, an editor with the federal government who also has worked in private-sector communications.

Johnson, whose children attend Saltonstall School, is a parent volunteer who has been active in school and district turnaround meetings. He also co-founded a charity race to benefit the Autism Society.

He said he was motivated to run, in part, by the “authoritarian leadership style” of the current board.

“I think they need to work on earning the community’s trust,” he said, “and we need to transform the School Committee into a model of civility, collaboration and good governance.”

He faulted the board for wasting time on “distractions,” like school uniforms and eliminating the extended year at Saltonstall, and for taking its eye off the key goals of the turnaround plan. With so much at stake, he said, Salem needs elective leaders who set high standards and communicate effectively with parents and staff.

“If we want a high-performing school system, we need a school committee that models high performance,” he said.

Tom Dalton can be reached at


Address: 13 River St.

Age: 41

Family: Married, two school-age children

Employment: Writer/editor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

Education: Lawrence High; Salem State College, B.S. communications; Suffolk University, M.A., communications.

Community involvement: Co-founder of Festivus 5K For Autism; volunteer, Saltonstall School and Troop 83, Salem Boy Scouts; vice president, North Shore Striders running club

Elective offices: None




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