NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 9, 2014

Impressive longevity in the School Committee

As I See It
Joe Callahan

---- — Following my article a couple of months ago about the service of the City Council, someone told me I should write a similar article about the School Committee.

Prior to a Charter change in 1920, there were 12 members of the School Committee, two elected from each of the city’s six wards. Beginning in 1920, the committee has had six members, all elected city-wide, with the mayor serving as the chairperson. The members are presently elected to staggered four-year terms. The members annually elect a vice chairperson to serve in the absence of the mayor.

Bradley C. Fuller served on the School Committee for a total of 46 years. For 40 of those years, he was chosen by his peers to be vice chairman. Mr. Fuller served the city as an elected official longer than any other person.

Norman Doyle served for 40 consecutive years beginning in 1954.

Deron Gulazian served for 32 consecutive years. He first served in 1948.

Joseph Stanwood served on the committee for a total of 31 years. Unlike Mr. Doyle and Mr. Gulazian, his years were not consecutive. He first served in 1956.

The longest serving woman on the School Committee was Dale Lucy Batcheller, who served 12 years starting in 1984.

Through the years, very few persons have served on both the School Committee and the City Council. Warren Currier served a total of 22 years between the 1920s through the early 1950s, 10 years as a councilor and 12 years as a School Committee member. He never served on both boards simultaneously.

Bert Reed in 2000 and 2001 is the only person I found who served both on the City Council and the School Committee at the same time.

Since the 1920 Charter change, Mary Anne Clancy is the only mayor of the city elected who had served on the School Committee. She was elected mayor for 2004-05 following eight years on the School Committee.

Former Mayors Edward G. Molin and Henry Graf Jr. also served on the School Committee, but after they served as mayor.

Several of the city’s medical doctors have taken an interest in the schools and served as members of the School Committee.

Dr. Edward D. Swiss served for 12 years starting in 1962.

Dr. Elizabeth Rogers came on the committee in 1938 and served for four years.

Dr. Carlton Bullard served three years in the 1920s and Dr. Frank Snow gave three years in the 1930s, followed by Dr. Frank Stockwell in the 1940s for three years.

In 1952, Elizabeth Blake became the first woman to serve as vice chairwoman.

In closing, I want to mention that the first woman to be elected to public office in Newburyport was Hannah E. Lunt. Hannah was elected to the School Committee as one of the two representatives on the committee from Ward 4 in 1887. She must have been well-liked, as she served for five years in an era when women could not vote but could run for office.

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Joe Callahan is a former fire chief of Salisbury who is interested in historical accounts of the area.