Marano Outlines Future Goals as Next Superintendent
Bellingham School Superintendent Peter Marano
Peter Marano has some specific goals he’ll strive to achieve when he takes the reins as Bellingham’s new School Superintendent in July. The 42-year-old native of Franklin, who currently is the high school principal, was unanimously chosen by the School Committee on Feb. 10 to succeed Ed Fleury, who’ll be retiring after four years as the town’s school chief.
“Dealing with redistricting will be my major focus during the next school year,” Marano said. “That’s my No. 1 priority. Helping and supporting teachers to continuously improve is another goal, and compiling annual budgets that will support the vision and the philosophy of our educational objectives is another important priority.”
Redistricting will involve moving fourth-grade elementary students to the middle school and relocating eighth-graders from the middle school to the high school. “I’m excited about it,” Marano said. “To close Macy School and to reconfigure our alignment is a huge effort. The teachers at Macy have done a lot of work to make that a great school. We’re sad to see it close, but we’re excited about this new chapter in the district. A lot of work has been done to provide information to parents, but we know there will be bumps in the road. I’ll address them as they arise. All the preparation for this move is great, but in September, the rubber will meet the road.”
Supporting teachers to progress is an area where Marano is eager to get involved. “This is important for principals because they provide the leadership around good teaching,” he emphasized. “My goal is to focus on continuous improvement. I want to help teachers get to a high level, and I’ll support principals to help them work with teachers to get the best outcomes. Evaluations must be meaningful, substantive and specific.”
Marano is acutely aware that the budgeting process is a challenge because of the state’s economy. He knows budgeting can be a thorn in one’s side. “We’ll look at all programs,” he noted. “We’ll support the ones that yield good results, and we’ll change the ones that aren’t productive. We know that we have to follow the laws and regulations for special education, but we also know that those students need and deserve an education.”
State-mandated testing is another area where Marano wants better results. Bellingham’s school system currently is using both MCAS and PARCC testing formats. “I want a big improvement,” Marano said. “We’ve got talented teachers and students. We’ll look at our curriculum and see if there are any gaps. Our efforts will be to improve everyone’s scores.”
User fees are now a way of life for school systems, and Marano plans to keep them at their current levels. A bus fee will begin next fall; it will cost parents $180 a year. Athletic fees are $200 for most sports. Football costs $250 and ice hockey is $300. Family caps do exist when more than one student is competing in one season.
“I wish there were no fees at all,” Marano said. “But they’re a reality and we have to live with them. What I don’t want is for them to create hardships for students and parents.”
Marano, who’s been in the Bellingham school system for 18 years, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees (in counseling) from Assumption College in Worcester, where he was an adjunct professor for three years. He also has a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational administration. Hired in Bellingham after an internship in 1997, he’s worked in the system as a guidance counselor, director of guidance, and an assistant principal. He became the high school principal four years ago when Fleury moved up to superintendent.
Marano and his wife, Paula, a 1989 graduate of Bellingham High, have two children—Gianna, 10; and Rocco, 8.
A firm believer that “quality must pervade an educational system for it to be a success,” Marano says there are three keys to being a good superintendent. “You must be objective and see all points of view,” he emphasized. “You must empower administrators and teachers to be leaders, and you must keep communication open and honest at all times.”
Marano’s message to parents and residents of the community is that his leadership will be all about “we, not just me.” “I’m excited to step into this new role and excited about the journey we’ll be undertaking,” Marano said. “It’s all about working with people—administrators, teachers, parents and students. The emphasis will be on all of us, not just me. It’s not one person who gets results. It’s all of us.”