By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — A Reading school official and another from Westford are set to take the reins of Manchester Essex High School and Middle School for the 2013-2014 school year.
Patricia Puglisi, the assistant principal for curriculum and instruction for Reading Memorial High School, has been named by Manchester Essex Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin to the high school position, while Steven Guditus, the assistant principal at Stony Brook Middle School of Westford, has been named to lead the regional middle school.
The two are taking over for interim high school principal Sharon Maguire and interim middle school principal Cate Cullinane. They had been placed at their interim positions when principal Jim Lee left in 2012 after accepting a new position in Braintree; Lee served at both principal positions until 2007 when Elizabeth Raucci was named the principle of the Middle School. Raucci was temporarily the principal of both the middle school and Manchester Memorial Elementary School.
Puglisi had previously served at the Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield as a history teacher and later the head of the department there from 2000 to 2009 before moving onto Reading. Cullinane served the same district, including as principal of the Masconomet Regional Middle School.
Puglisi expressed her interest in the district in her cover letter and application.
The Manchester Essex district has “an outstanding reputation for forward thinking educational practices,” she wrote.
She first attended Boston College and later Salem State University and is currently carrying out post-graduate school leadership coursework at the National Institute for School Leadership.
Guditus started his first full-time teaching position in Medfield as a Social Studies teacher from 2002 to 2010, then moved onto his assistant principal position at Stony Brook Middle School. Guditus received his Masters Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a degree in Organizational Management from Endicott College.
”It is a priority for me to create meaningful relationships with staff members, students and community members,” he wrote in his cover letter.
According to the budget for fiscal 2014, the school district is poised to set aside $218,416 for the high school principal and assistant principal positions combined, a decrease of about $3,500 since last year’s budget. The budget also indicates $115,000 was set aside for the middle school position — a bump of more than $8,000 compared to last year’s budget.
School Committee members explained that the committee itself was not directly involved in the search, nor did they have to approve the two new hires or make a recommendation of who to choose. Committee members said they did get a chance to sit in on interviews, meet the applicants and were given regular updates about the search process.
Committee members said the search panel involved parents, faculty members and students.
Committee member Kathleen Quill said Superintendent of Schools Pamela Beaudoin met with parents and faculty members that had worked with both Puglisi and Guditus during the selection process, she had even visited the two while at their current positions.
A meet-and-greet with both principals is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the middle high school library, the two start their new positions July 1.
Quill, who had a chance to meet Puglisi, was pleased with the selections.
”The superintendent really took all of the factors into account to make the decision,” she said. “(Puglisi) is an extremely strong candidate, we are lucky to have her.”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.