BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Of the 48 years that Albert Argenziano has worked in public education, he has spent only 90 days in Beverly.
That might not be much of a sample size. But in his three months as interim superintendent, Argenziano said he has seen enough to be impressed.
“I told the staff that if I were 50 years old and living in Salem like I do, I’d crawl over the bridge for this superintendent’s job,” Argenziano said. “This is a system where everything is in place.”
Argenziano’s comments came as schools opened yesterday for the city’s elementary, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students. The rest of the district’s approximately 4,300 students will start school today.
Argenziano, a retired superintendent, has been serving as interim superintendent since June. He is also helping with the search for a permanent superintendent.
School Committee President Maria Decker said 48 people inquired about the position and 32 submitted an application packet by the deadline.
Argenziano will conduct the initial interviews and narrow the list for a selection committee. That committee will then choose finalists for the School Committee to interview. Decker said the School Committee is planning to hire a superintendent by mid-December.
Argenziano said the opening has drawn candidates from six states, including several current superintendents. The strength of the Beverly system makes it an attractive job, he said.
The high school is rated by the state as a Level 1 school, the highest ranking on a 1 to 5 scale. Briscoe Middle School and four of the five elementary schools — Ayers, Centerville, Cove and Hannah — are Level 2 schools.
North Beverly Elementary is a Level 3 school, but Argenziano said the latest test results could soon push it up to Level 2.
“Hopefully, we’ll have good news in three weeks,” he said.
Argenziano said Beverly is also a favorable destination for superintendent candidates because most of its school buildings are in good shape. The elementary schools have all been renovated, and the high school is 3 years old.
Briscoe is a century old and in poor shape, but the city is planning to build a new middle school at the site of the Memorial Building on Cabot Street.
Argenziano said Beverly also has a strong teaching staff with a mix of veterans and younger teachers. The district hired 50 new teachers this year, accounting for about 12 percent of its staff. The new teachers are replacing ones who retired or moved. Argenziano said there were no layoffs.
“If you have good facilities and a good infrastructure and no layoffs, it’s good for morale,” he said.
Argenziano said the district has tightened security, with coded keypads now in place at all school buildings.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.