BREAKING NEWS: 3 Candidates Emerge For School Committee Vacancy

WILMINGTON, MA — The Friday, July 27, 4:30pm deadline has come and gone. Wilmington Apple has learned that three residents have submitted letters of interest to the Town Manager’s Office, asking to be considered for the School Committee seat recently vacated by Peggy Kane.

The three candidates are:

  • Jesse Fennelly
  • Jo Newhouse
  • Scott Trach

Jesse Fennelly was the runner-up in April’s School Committee election. Fennelly (926 votes) finished third in a three-person race for two seats, behind incumbent MJ Byrnes (1,675 votes) and newcomer David Ragsdale (1,325). Fennelly ran a positive campaign, with an overall message of “ensuring that all the children in this school district have the chance to get the best, most well-rounded education possible,” while promising to “act as a voice for the parents and students in our community.” Readers can refresh their memories on Jesse’s campaign HERE.

Jo Newhouse has been heavily involved in Wilmington Public Schools since 2011.

She has been very active at the schools her two sons attend.

“I have volunteered regularly at the Wildwood (2011-2015), Woburn Street (2013-2018), and North Intermediate (2016 to current) to assist wherever needed,” Newhouse told Wilmington Apple. “Whether it be in the library, in my children’s classes, in class lunches, at field days or on field trips.”

Newhouse served as Co-Chair of the Wildwood PAC for three years. She was also a member of the Wildwood/Boutwell School Advisory Council. She currently serves as the Enrichment Coordinator for the Northside PAC. She has organized and run the Book Fair at the North Intermediate for the past two years. She also organized the annual teacher luncheons at the Wildwood, Woburn Street, and North Intermediate. She currently serves as the parent representative on the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support (PBIS) team at the North Intermediate.

Newhouse has also been very active at the district level as well, most notably as Co-Chair of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) for the past three years.

“As a SEPAC board member, some of the things I have done include working closely with parents, staff and administration on a whole host of important issues; attending numerous school open houses; organizing and running many workshops; holding monthly business meetings addressing many topics that affect the district; participating in the District Coordinated Program Review this past Spring; participating in the district’s Behavior Health Fairs, and helping make monthly support group meetings available for guardians with special needs students,” said Newhouse.

In addition to her six years as a member of the SEPAC, Newhouse currently serves on the district’s Homework Policy Committee. She was previously a member of the district’s Bullying Committee and the District Advisory Committee. Newhouse has also served on multiple interview committees to evaluate and vet candidates for both teaching and administrative positions with the school system.

“Serving on the School Committee is something I’ve thought about for a while, but wanted to see through a few transitions on the SEPAC,” added Newhouse. “I’m now ready to take my involvement and volunteerism in the school system to the next level.

Scott Trach, who submitted his letter just prior to the deadline, serves as the Associate Dean of Student Advising and Success at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at Berklee and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Maine. He taught music in several school districts in Maine for more than 15 years, before joining Berklee.

Each of the three candidates are married. Each have two school-aged children.

Wilmington Apple hopes to interview all three candidates in the coming week.

The Wilmington Board of Selectmen and the Wilmington School Committee will hold a joint meeting on Monday, August 13, 2018 at 7pm to fill the vacancy. The “winning” candidate needs a simple majority — affirmative votes from at least six of the eleven officials — to secure the appointment.

The selected candidate will fill the remaining eight months on Peggy Kane’s unexpired term and will be up for (re)election in April 2019.

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