(By Miranda Willson, Medford Transcript, December 20, 2017)
Outgoing School Committee member Robert E. Skerry Jr. and Vice Chairperson Ann Marie Cugno were honored at their last School Committee meeting on Dec. 18.
All committee members, as well as Superintendent of Schools Roy Belson, gave remarks about the work of Skerry and Cugno during their time on the committee. Skerry was on the School Committee between 1987-88, 1991-97, 1999-2000 and 2011-2017, while Cugno has served consistently since 2005.
“I’ve served with you [both] in many capacities over all our terms,” said Mayor Stephanie M. Burke. “It has always been an honor and a privilege to work with both of you.”
Belson thanked them individually, highlighting Skerry’s past experience as a teacher and his family’s involvement in public service.
“Anyone who knows Bob Skerry knows that Bobby really cares about kids,” Belson said. “Even though sometimes it looks like you’ve got that bravado on, you’re really a soft puppy and you really care about people.”
Belson described Cugno as “one of the great joiners of all time” for her participation in various committees and initiatives, and noted her tenure as president of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2014.
“You rose to the rank of president of the MASC, which gave you incredible perspective and you brought back a lot of ideas,” Belson said. “The two of you are among the best School Committee members I’ve served with, so I want to thank you.”
Cugno did not run for reelection this year, instead running for a seat on the seven-member City Council. She came in eighth place in the race, 815 votes behind seventh-place incumbent George Scarpelli.
Skerry ran for reelection this year to the six-member School Committee, but came in seventh place, 37 votes behind newcomer Paul Ruseau.
“It’s about the kids, it’s about the budget, it’s about knowing what your positions on this committee are,” Cugno said.
She thanked her fellow committee members, her family and the superintendent, especially commenting on Belson’s constant communication with committee members, principals and parents.
“Work with your minds, but really work with your hearts,” Cugno said in closing.
In his speech to the committee, Skerry remarked that one of the reasons he decided to join the School Committee was to see positives changes at the schools, which he believes has occurred.
″[The schools] have done a complete 180. We have beautiful buildings and I just hope that you guys will keep up and give them the maintenance they need, which is long overdue in the city,” he said.
Skerry described himself as someone who has “fought for the underdog,” especially concerned with students struggling to keep their grades up.
“I’d like to thank my family, my friends and the residents of Medford for their understanding and trust that they’ve placed in me with their children for the better part of the last four decades,” he added.