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EWSD Reimagines Physical Plant and Safety Operations with New Leadership

July 1, 2021

For many Vermont students and staff, summer is a time for reflection, recreation, and rest. For the Essex Westford School District Operations staff, however, these months are a chance to reset our school buildings and prepare for a new year of learning. 


In June, Bruce Murdough (Director of Property Services for the past 50 years) retired from the EWSD. This change presented the District with the unique opportunity to reimagine the strategic direction and structure of both property services (including custodial, maintenance, and grounds staff) and safety operations.


After months of conversations with other school districts and educational industry leaders, the EWSD has embraced a forward-thinking model that consolidates Property Services and Safety and Emergency Preparedness into a single department: Facilities and District Safety. The research clearly points to the fact that the two functions are inseparable and operate best when combined and cohesive. Garry Scott, who has served as the Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the past eight months, has been selected to lead the new department.  


“Bruce’s retirement is a huge loss, but it also gives us a very unique opportunity,” said Brian Donahue, the EWSD’s Chief Operating Officer. “This first big step puts us on the path to a new future.”  


Since Scott joined the District in November of 2020, he has demonstrated incredible leadership and a deep commitment to EWSD’s core values. His expertise in collaboration, systems development, and communication has already made a positive difference. He has become a valued partner in the broader racial and community justice work in Essex and surrounding towns. 


Prior to working with the EWSD, Scott was a Captain in the Vermont State Police (VSP) where he advanced through the ranks to the position of Director of Fair and Impartial Policing and Community Affairs before retiring after 20 years of service. He also served as a media spokesperson for Vermont State Police and routinely testified before the Vermont Legislature.


During his career, Scott played a key role leading and managing major facilities and technology projects including the design and planning of construction for two state police barracks (Williston and Berlin). He also led the research and implementation of new cloud-based body cameras and video security system initiatives at the VSP. Scott graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Salem State College. 


Patrick Dattilio will continue to serve as the Assistant Director of Facilities with an expanded role supervising all custodial, maintenance, skating rink, and grounds staff in the new model. Dattilio brought experience in all facets of property management through his work with the Champlain Housing Trust for over 17 years before joining the EWSD in August of 2020. 


The District will also be posting for a new position to be hired this summer: Assistant Director of Mechanical Systems. This individual will provide leadership and expertise for the mechanical systems (electric, plumbing, HVAC, and mechanic work) across our District. 


The combined Facilities and District Safety team consists of more than 90 staff members who provide valuable service to our learning community: cleaning nearly one million square feet of space, performing grounds maintenance for 442 acres of property, welcoming staff and visitors, and overseeing many special projects to make our campuses accessible and safe. 


We look forward to this new structure which will help the District continue to make great things happen by “growing hearts and minds for a better today and tomorrow, every day, every way, every one.”