23 Aug 2014
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UPDATED: Peabody School Superintendent to Retire

School Committee member confirms Dr. C. Milton Burnett to leave post on July 11.

UPDATED: Peabody School Superintendent to Retire

Dr. C. Milton Burnett, superintendent of the Peabody Public Schools, submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Michael Bonfanti's office this week. His last day will be July 11.

On Sunday night, Burnett said he is ready to step down and feels that he served the city and its schoolchildren very well.

"I just felt the time was right," he said. "Just to spend a little bit of time with family and to enjoy the coming summer."

School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne told Peabody Patch Saturday afternoon the committee received a copy of the letter from Bonfanti's office on Thursday, but had not issued any announcement.

Burnett has served as Peabody's school superintendent since 2006 after he succeeded former superintendent Nadine Binkley. His three-year contract was renewed in 2009 and his retirement will occur one year before that contract was scheduled to expire.

Burnett currently earns an annual salary of $144,000 per year with a $4,200 annuity, according to Dunne. Overall, she said Burnett's decision was not totally unexpected.

"It wasn't too much of a surprise to me," Dunne said. At 63, Burnett is close to retirement age.

She believes the School Committee's negative evaluation of Burnett's performance in November may have influenced his decision to retire a year before his contract expires.

School Committee members gave him an average rating of 2.66 out of a five-point scale and placed him between needing improvement and satisfactory.

"It did not influence my decision," Burnett said. "I go into work every day. I work hard and I feel like I do a good job and I feel like we have a strong educational system."

Burnett, who will be 64 when he retires, said he has been eligible to retire for the last couple of years and just felt the time was right for him to leave this year instead of the final year of his contract.

Dunne said Burnett spent nearly his entire educational career working in the Peabody Public School. He started as a teacher at South Memorial School and later became the district wide administrator of instruction. He also worked as the Billerica public school superintendent for three years before he was hired to be Peabody's superintendent.

Dunne said Burnett helped the Peabody Public Schools recover from a period of great turmoil after the previous superintendent let go 10 principals and three assistant superintendents in two years.

"He calmed everything down," said Dunne.

Dunne said people were very pleased to see a former Peabody school teacher advance to that position. She said he also stabilized the staff.

"They were not under a constant barrage of changes and they were respected by him and that's what was very important at the time," Dunne said.

Burnett said he has always prided himself on his ability to promote "cooperative decision making" where the staff is involved.

But Dunne said she and other School Committee members wanted to see Burnett move the school district forward at a quicker pace of improvement than he was able to do.

"The expectations of the committee changed and that was reflected in his evaluation," Dunne said.

Burnett said he wants to volunteer his time to do guest reading in the classrooms and work with groups like the Peabody Education Council and the Simon Youth Foundation.

Dunne said she has no doubt that Burnett will continue to volunteer his time to support the Peabody Public Schools as he done for most of his career.

"He is, at heart, a true teacher and I firmly believe that Dr. Burnett will continue to dedicate his time to the schools because he is a very good citizen," Dunne added.

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