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Correspondent

SHIRLEY — Daniel Meehan has worked as a consultant for banks, insurance companies and hospitals and has experience with company mergers.

“I don’t really know the school system,” he said, “but I know business.”

Meehan announced his plans recently to run for an expiring three-year term on the School Committee held by committee Chairman Robert Schuler. Schuler has announced he will not run for re-election. However, Meehan’s opponent, David Baumritter, will appear on the May 13 ballot.

“It’s a new challenge from a professional standpoint,” said Meehan, who considers the open seat an opportunity to learn a new business.

He said he also has a personal stake in the welfare of the district. After meeting with interim Superintendent of Schools Malcolm “Mac” Reid, Meehan said he and his wife, Rene, have decided to send their 6-year-old son, Tyler, to school here.

During Meehan and Reid’s discussions about the district, Reid encouraged him to attend the Ayer-Lunenburg-Shirley Regional School District Planning Board meetings. That prompted in an even greater interest in the district, said Meehan.

Shirley representatives, including committee member Robert Prescott and Selectman David Swain, have been meeting with representatives from Ayer and Lunenburg to determine the feasibility of forming a regional school district among the towns. Board members have been gracious and informative, said Meehan. He added that Prescott has been helping him learn about the district.

Meehan said his merger experience will be helpful if plans to form a regional school district materialize.

Though he’s still learning about the district, he said he predicts a learning curve for citizens, committee members and school administrators. He doesn’t have enough information to pinpoint exactly what needs to be done, he said, but it’s important to look at the big picture.

“There’s no quick hit, I think,” said Meehan. “Everyone’s looking for a silver bullet.”

He said he wants the public to know he understands operating under the confines of “no more money.” He said he wants to effect positive change for citizens who want as much as possible for the students during these leaner times.

The committee sometimes takes a “bad rap,” he said, even though committee members give up their free time to provide services to students.

“When the money’s flowing, it’s an easy job,” said Meehan. “When the money gets tight, it’s the hardest job in the world.”

There are hard budget decisions to make, he said, and he knows changes are on the horizon.

“There’s not going to be any more money coming in,” he predicts. “You have to learn how to manipulate what’s there by making hard decisions about what needs to go and what needs to stay. You have to run lean but effectively.”

Meehan left his hometown of Holbrook and moved to Shirley 10 years ago. Rene owns her own business in town, Meehan Consulting, for which Meehan is the chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

His daughters, 16 and 14, attend school in Leominster, where they began school before the Meehan’s moved to Shirley.

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