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Ely takes the reins

New superintendent has a lot on plate

Eric Ely (click for larger version)
August 01, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — It's official: Southbridge has a new school chief.

Eric Ely formally started work today, Aug. 2, as school superintendent, after the School Committee concluded negotiating his three-year contract last week.

"It's actually almost the same contract Dr. [Dale] Hanley got, with a different salary," said Chairman John Jovan Jr., referring to the previous superintendent.

He said the committee agreed to pay Ely $135,000 a year plus a $5,000 annuity, another $5,000 to cover relocation expenses, and lesser costs for travel, conferences and the like. The one thing he asked for but didn't get was a tuition allowance, Jovan said.

"Within the first 30 days, he'll have a lot on his plate," Jovan observed. "We're really looking forward to him coming aboard and having a long relationship with the community."

Specifically, he said he feels Ely's first priorities will have to be filling a few key vacancies in the district, namely West Street School principal and math and English coordinators' posts.

Ely, 50, was most recently superintendent in Schenectady, N.Y., where he served from Jan. 2006 until resigning this June. For the last year or so, Ely had to do his job amid controversy surrounding the trial of the district's facilities director, Stephen Raucci, who was convicted of arson and other acts terrorizing some co-workers.

That situation garnered a lot of press coverage in Schenectady, including various allegations Ely had supported Raucci. But a detailed background check done by the Mass. Association of School Committees during the search process found the allegations to be baseless and determined Ely was essentially being made a "scapegoat" by Raucci's opponents.

See Monday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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