The School Committee this week appointed current Hull Public Schools staff member Diane M. Saniuk as school business manager to replace David DeGennaro, who plans to retire in the near future.
Saniuk has served as finance and budget analyst in the HPS Central Office since 2014 and has been mentored by DeGennaro in anticipation of stepping into this new role.
In July 2020, DeGennaro was appointed assistant superintendent while still carrying out the duties of the business manager. However, according to School Superintendent Judith Kuehn, the assistant superintendent position will not be filled, at least for the time being.
“Diane’s role has expanded over the years, and she is [very] knowledgeable,” Kuehn said.
Saniuk has been interested in her new role for a while in the event an opening would occur, and she believes that now seems to be the right time for her and the school district that she take that position.
“I have been involved in so many of the aspects of the school operations behind the scenes, and now I will have a more public role,” Saniuk said. “David has huge shoes to fill.”
Committee member Jennifer Fleming noted that Saniuk “has all the tools so that we can continue on seamlessly in the wake of David’s departure.”
Kuehn and the School Committee had high praise for DeGennaro and Saniuk. “David has been a great influence on the [Hull Public Schools], and we will miss his input and expertise, but Diane is definitely capable and prepared and will do a tremendous job,” Chair David Twombly said.
According to Kuehn, DeGennaro will still play a role, returning two days a week after he retires to help vet all the data associated with the Best Educational Use of School Facilities study and to be part of the group that will review the final recommendations of the ad hoc committee as to which of the four options offered in the report would work best. (The study, including the options, is posted on the Hull Public Schools website.) DeGennaro will also assist Saniuk in overseeing the Middle School repair project.
Kuehn reported that the recent Best Educational Use of School Facilities focus group meetings for staff and administrators, students, election officials, and the community-at-large were well attended. A virtual meeting about the study is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 7. (The link will be available at a later date.)
Twombly noted that feedback at the meetings has basically ruled out Option 1: maintaining the status quo as far as the three current school buildings are concerned.
Fleming noted that the overall goal is to decide which of the options is the best educational use of the three buildings “for the benefit of our students.”
This has been “an open and transparent process,” Kuehn said.
In other business at the meeting:
* Principal Anthony Hrivnak reported that U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Memorial Middle School No. 54 among 491 middle schools in Massachusetts. This is the first time U.S. News has undertaken K-8 rankings.
Hrivnak attributed the high ranking to the hard work of students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and the School Committee.
Twombly in turn expressed appreciation for Hrivnak’s efforts. “You’re the leader of the building, and you have done a tremendous job. Kudos to you, too.” His remarks were followed by hearty applause.
* State Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced an initial policy last August allowing middle and high schools to potentially lift the face mask mandate he imposed at that time – and later extended until Jan. 15 – for vaccinated students and staff only if they reached a certain vaccination threshold: at least 80 percent of students and staff, combined, in a school building are vaccinated.
Kuehn reported that Hull High School is nearly at that point, at 75.83 percent, and the middle school is at 58.56 percent. Now that the vaccine has been approved for children ages 5 to 11, 10 sixth-graders are partially vaccinated. Once they are fully vaccinated, the middle school percentage will increase.
“This means that we will all continue to wear face masks for now,” Kuehn said.