A second race for School Committee is forming as a third candidate has emerged for one of the two, three-year seats on the March ballot.
Susan McCready, 47, of 8 Dean Circle, took out nomination papers last week, according to Town Clerk Larry Murphy.
McCready joins two other candidates — incumbent David Birnbach and political newcomer Kim Sousa, 42, of 4 Montclair Ave.
In addition, a race is unfolding for a one-year slot on the School Committee created by the resignation of Barbara L’Italien, who stepped down as of Jan. 1 to begin her role as the new state senator for the 2nd Essex and Middlesex District, representing Andover, Dracut, Tewksbury and Lawrence.
So far, two people have expressed interest in that one-year spot — current School Committee Chairman Annie Gilbert and former selectman Ted Teichert. Gilbert said she has decided not to run for re-election to her three-year seat because she plans on leaving the School Committee after her oldest child graduates Andover High next year.
McCready: Engage families
A third-generation Andover resident who graduated from Andover High School in 1985, the former Susan Middleton said she counts herself among the many people who moved back to town because they got a good education here and want to provide the same for their own children.
“I find that for a lot of parents and families it’s a challenge to get out and get involved because both parents are working, they have young children and they are busy,” she said. “I don’t necessarily feel we are a fully represented constituency. That’s our fault for not being there. I’d like to get families more engaged. I feel very in touch with a lot of families in town.”
She said people are talking about high taxes and want to rein in spending, but “you also hear people say — it’s no longer about the kids anymore. I see challenges in the schools, but on the other hand, when my parents moved back to this town, they weren’t paying fees for buses and sports. There’s a big disconnect there. There are more families and businesses and a larger tax base.”
The School Committee, she said, seems to understand the problems in the schools, while other boards and some residents are complaining that schools cost too much.
“I think the School Committee gets that,” she said. “A couple of them have had kids going through the schools. They understand that. They always have to defend what they are trying to do. It’s like the Bancroft School — there is constant talk now that taxes have to go up to pay for that school. But we had to rebuild that school. We should be talking about the high school now and I’m afraid we won’t be talking about it. Other schools in town are aged and overburdened.”
She said the high school is overcrowded and in serious need of renovation.
“It’s the same as when I went there,” she said.
Before her first child was born, McCready worked in the financial services technology field. She now lives at home, caring for her daughter, a third-grader at Sanborn. Her husband works in Boston.
A co-president of the Sanborn PTO for three years, she’s been thinking about running for School Committee for a while. She said schools need investment, not neglect.
“I know for a fact that people move here for the Andover Public School system,” she said. “There are employers who are advertising that to employees. But we have to invest and make education a priority. We are lucky to have great services like fire and police, but education is the hallmark of our history.”
Other seats uncontested
There are also two seats up for grabs on the Board of Selectmen. So far, only the incumbents, Dan Kowalski and Brian Major,. have taken out nomination papers.
Town Moderator Sheila Doherty has already turned in her papers to continue for another year in that one-year position, and her signatures have been certified. She is currently unopposed.
Marilyn Fitzgerald of Washington Avenue is running for re-election to the Greater Lawrence Vocational Technical School Committee in Andover and Earl Efinger of Iceland Road is seeking another term on the Punchard Free School Board of Trustees.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Feb. 3 to turn in their nomination papers with the signatures of 50 registered voters to get their names on the March 24 town ballot.