A School Committee member who has helped lead the board and Gloucester’s school system through some of its most challenging yet innovative times has announced that she will not seek a fourth term in November.
Valerie Gilman, who chaired the committee through 2010-2011 and has serve as its vice chair since, announced through an open letter to the community and to the Times in which she said she reached a “difficult” not to run in the upcoming city elections despite initially taking out nomination papers from City Hall.
“I am prepared to leave the committee at the end of my third term, knowing that the district is in good hands,” she wrote. “At a recent meeting, Superintendent Safier presented our new comprehensive evidence and results-oriented district improvement plan that is second to none. I am prepared to leave the committee at the end of my third term, knowing that the district is in good hands and I have faith that Dr. Safier and his leadership team will exceed the aggressive academic goals put forth in that plan.”
Gilman, first elected in 2007, and then re-elected in 2009 and 2011 — when she and other members breezed through unopposed, and after which Jonathan Pope, who served previously, then returned to the committee and was chosen chairman — chaired the committee through the launch of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, through the early stages of exploring a potential new West Parish School, and through the transition of superintendents from Christopher Farmer to Joseph Connolly in a one-year interim role, and then to Richard Safier, who was chosen in February 2011.
“One of my proudest accomplishments was chairing the committee that hired a capable and visionary superintendent who has strengths in curriculum instruction, common core, assessment, and professional development,” wrote Gilman, whose full letter appears on Page 11 of today’s Times.
Gilman’s exit from the race has cast a new variable on a contest this fall that has not been contentious in the recent past. To date, former committee member Michelle Sweet has taken out papers with an eye toward returning to the board, while Joel Favazza and John “J.D.” MacEachern Jr., are also seeking committee seats. They will be competing with incumbents Pope, Melissa Teixeira, Kathleen Clancy and Tony Gross, who also heads the city’s Waterways Board.
Incumbent Roger Garberg, however, has not yet taken out papers to run for what would be his third term. Garberg was formally censured by his committee colleagues in June for typing and sending an email that critics said was dismissive and mocking of a school parent’s letter to the committee questioning a new breakfast program being implemented at Veterans Memorial and Beeman Memorial schools this fall.
The deadline for all city candidates to submit their nomination papers with signatures to the city registrar’s office is Aug. 13. The School Committee has six elected seats, with the elected mayor holding the seventh school board slot.
“I encourage members of the community, particularly those who have young children in our schools, to remain engaged in your children’s education,” Gilman added. “If I may be so bold, consider running for School Committee. The last day to submit nomination papers to the registrar of voters for certification is Aug. 13 at 5 p.m., which gives you a month to collect the required 150 signatures.
“Although my last term still has five months remaining, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my friends, colleagues, faculty, staff, community partners, local and state elected officials, and most importantly, my wonderful family who have supported me as a public official for the city of Gloucester,” she said. “It has been an honor to serve our community.”