When School Committeeman Tom Abruzzese walked into the annual organizational meeting last year during the first meeting of the year, he had no idea he would emerge as the chair.
In fact, in one of the most pressure-packed and contentious years on the School Committee for decades, Abruzzese lent his leadership to the body, and this Monday, his returning colleagues and new members gave him another year as chair.
In a unanimous vote, Abruzzese was elected chair of the School Committee for a second term Monday night.
“Last year I wasn’t prepared to say anything because it was a complete surprise,” he said after being elected. “This year, I wanted to be prepared with a few comments. Unfortunately, when I started to write things down, my pen started writing positive things, but turned into negative things. Maybe I’m growing sensitive in my old age. Even tonight there was a negative spin on something we did. I want to move past the negative this year. It’s a great School Committee. It’s exciting to see different faces – faces that have already given me good advice.
“Unlike last year, when I didn’t know what to expect, this year I’ll have a better handle on things,” he continued.
Abruzzese said he wanted to promote freedom for the members to speak out, no matter whether tensions or passions are high.
“Last year, a lot of times it got heated,” he said. “I don’t think it’s bad to get heated, but I don’t think it’s okay to get heated when things get personal. Things aren’t supposed to be personal. We’re here to do the bidding of the kids and students of Everett. I will maintain my composure. I lost it one time. I won’t let that happen again.”
School Committeeman Frank Parker nominated Abruzzese for chair, and said he had done amazing work over the past year. From negotiating successful teacher contracts to running the superintendent search process, he said Abruzzese had done tremendous service to the City.
“What we did not know last year when he was elected, was he was the right man for the job,” he said. “What he did for this community will likely never be fully known. He did so much and at times at the expense of his family.”
For Vice Chair, Parker won unanimously as well, 9-0.
In his comments, Parker encouraged returning members and new members to specialize in some aspect of education.
“When you decide where that path is to go, let us know so we can get you the resources you need,” he said.
Interim Supt. Janice Gauthier was sworn in also as the secretary of the Committee.
The first meeting was quite a milestone, as it was the first with several new members. Three new members joined two members who had been appointed, and were elected for the first time (Marcony Almeida Barros and Millie Cardello). It gave the School Committee an entirely new face from what it had been for many years prior to 2018.