By Michelle Pelletier Marshall Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — ROWLEY — Former Selectman Richard Cummings was appointed to the Triton Regional School Committee Monday night, replacing Rowley representative Lane Bourn who recently resigned.
Cummings, of 3 Arbor Way, secured the seat during a joint meeting of the town selectmen and the two current Rowley representatives on the School Committee. He will serve out Bourn’s unexpired term, until the next election in May 2013, at which time he can seek election to the seat, which Cummings indicated he would do.
Cummings was chosen over Jon Bernard of 36 Emily Lane, who is currently the principal of North Reading High School and has 26 years experience as an educator. Bernard, who has also served on selectmen’s boards, was one of three finalists for the superintendent’s position in Rockport earlier this year. Before that, he had applied to work within the Triton district.
Bernard said during the interview process that he was interested in the position to give back to the community he calls home.
“I believe very strongly in public service and believe my professional background would serve me well in this position,” he said. “Communication is central to any undertaking and in this position, I would look to build bridges and come to consensus between all three towns.”
Cummings previously served on the Rowley Board of Selectmen for two terms, stepping down last year to run for the School Committee this past May, a race he narrowly lost to incumbent Mary Murphy. He has also served on other town boards and committees.
Cummings’ commitment to being a source of information for parents and the community on the happenings with the school district and committee as well as his desire to be part of the solution for the children and for parents were the keys to his appointment. Cummings said he would seek to put people at ease and provide residents a sense of “peace of mind” knowing there will be a vested parent with children in the district on the School Committee to ensure the best education for all.
“I am a committed parent who seeks to bring the district together and allay the fears of parents by being the go-to person for information,” Cummings said. “I would bring diversity to the School Committee and have a very broad following across all three towns, whose views I want to represent.”
Cummings said that great challenges remain in public education. “Triton is No. 81 of 135 schools in the state. Every school around us is better than us,” he said. “Let’s be No. 75 next year by focusing on our strengths before we go for new initiatives.”
Selectman Stuart Dalzell called for the motion to appoint Cummings, while Murphy made the motion to appoint Bernard
“Both candidates are very qualified to hold this position. It is difficult to choose,” said Selectman Bob Merry, who voted for Cummings in the end.
Cummings was ultimately chosen, with only Murphy voting in opposition. He is expected to be sworn in by the town clerk later this week and take his seat on the School Committee at the board’s next meeting.