When the next academic year starts in the fall, coronavirus changes won’t be the only thing new to Haverhill public school students.
Several of the district’s top leaders are moving from their school positions and, in some cases, shuffling to other roles within the same buildings.
The result: Five schools will have new principals.
Superintendent Margaret Marotta said Consentino School Principal John Mele and Assistant Principal Richard Poor started a trend last month when they decided to swap roles at the middle school. After seven years as Consentino principal, Mele is stepping back to become assistant principal there, a role he held for three years before that. Mele said he hopes the move will allow him to spend more time with his family. Shortly after Mele made that decision, Marotta offered the principal role to Poor and he accepted.
Pentucket Lake Elementary School Principal Maureen Gray and Assistant Principal James Brennan were paying attention to the Consentino situation, Marotta said.
“John and Rich approached me about it and I thought, ‘Sure, it’s great,’’’ Marotta said of Mele and Poor exchanging jobs at Consentino. “We went ahead and they swapped roles. As soon as we did, Maureen Gray gave me a call and said her husband was retiring and she was thinking of taking a step back. Maureen said she’d love to be an assistant principal and that (current assistant) Jim Brennan would love to be a principal, and there we were.”
Marotta said the leadership swaps are positive ones — especially in an unknown climate.
“It’s good to have people who know the kids, especially in a pandemic,” she said. “It’s not a great time for change right now, so it keeps things in the school stable.”
Marotta said interviews are underway for open principal positions at three schools — Whittier Middle, and Silver Hill and Bradford elementary schools.
Whittier Principal Brian Gill, who had been on medical leave during the past school year, is leaving Haverhill after six years to become interim principal at Amesbury Middle School, Amesbury Superintendent Jared Fulgoni said. Gill replaces retiring Amesbury Middle School Principal Michael Curry.
Beth Kitsos, who helped oversee Whittier Middle School during Gill’s absence, is leaving the Whittier position, Marotta said. Kitsos will become principal of Walnut Square Elementary School in the fall, Marotta said.
Silver Hill Principal Mary Ellen Lucas is leaving for Methuen to serve as an associate principal in that city, Marotta said. She leaves Haverhill after four years here, having served as Consentino’s assistant principal for three years.
Finally, Bradford Elementary will see a new principal in September, Marotta said.
Cathy Giles, a consultant from New Hampshire’s Seaside Educational Consultants, took over Bradford Elementary in February after the teachers union issued a vote of no confidence in then-Principal Louise Perry. Marotta said Giles’ role was temporary and while she has “done a good job to keep things steady” during the COVID-19 closure, she will not become full-time principal in the fall. Other candidates will interview for the job, Marotta said.
The superintendent said the 2020-2021 school calendar has not yet been approved, but students are expected to return to class after Labor Day.