There was no question Tuesday night -- the School Committee was unequivocally behind the as the district's new assistant superintendent.
"I don't think we could have picked a finer person for this position," said committee member Brandi Carpenter, praising Murtagh as an "outstanding leader" and coming from a well-respected family in Peabody.
Her colleagues agreed, likewise commending the elementary school principal as a highly skilled, talented and strong leader who was committed to the city's schools and could help move the district forward.
Veteran committee member David McGeney said, in fact, that as he reflects over his years on the board in the future, he's confident this will be the "easiest vote" he'll ever take.
"This is so much of a no-brainer. Cara is more than ready," McGeney said, pausing to acknowledge her parents in the audience. A number of other family members, friends, fellow principals and colleagues were also there.
John "Jack" Murtagh was a former principal of the Kiley School and spent 23 years in that role.
"You were genetically bred for this," McGeney added, drawing laughs.
Interim Superintendent Herb Levine made the recommendation to the committee Tuesday night, again offering his own praise for Murtagh. He said the promotion was made in conjunction with incoming Superintendent Joe Mastrocola.
"She is the one of the most high-functioning...highly regarded, bright superstars in education," said Levine, bestowing her with such distinction among 43 years of teachers and administrators he has worked with. "We will be lucky to have her."
Murtagh will be paid $110,000 for the job ($20,000 of the salary is covered by a grant) and her duties will entail "curriculum, instruction, assessment and many other things," said Levine.
"This is a marvelous woman," said committee member Ed Charest. "If we didn't do this today...some time down the road we'd be scratching our heads, saying...'Why did we let Murtagh go?'"
Tom Rossignoll said Murtagh "always puts kids first" and is a strong leader. He added that he favors the idea of promoting from within.
Beverley Griffin Dunne noted she was happy to see many glowing recommendations submitted on Murtagh's behalf from her colleagues. She added that she was also glad to know Murtagh has spent much time on curriculum and data-driven efforts to identify and address needs in both her school and the district.
Murtagh, 37, has spent the past eight years as an elementary school principal -- a short stint at the before returning to the in 2005. She's spent her entire teaching career in Peabody, in fact, since graduating from Emmanuel College in 1997.
Murtagh taught at for a year before spending the next six as a classroom teacher at the .
She returned to Emmanuel for a master's degree and on Tuesday received her certification and licensure for superintendent/assistant superintendent from the state.
"Good things are happening to good people and great things for this city," said Mayor Ted Bettencourt Tuesday. He said he grew up with Murtagh and has watched her mature into a great educator.
"Welcome aboard...well, wait, we have to vote first," said Bettencourt, drawing laughs. The vote was 5-0 in favor of Murtagh (Jarrod Hochman was absent, but sent a letter in his stead expressing his full support of Murtagh for the job).
"Now get to work," joked Charest.
Murtagh, taking the stage briefly to express her thanks, said it's a great honor and privilege for her.
She said she's committed to the children of Peabody and sees the district as having an "incredible leadership team" with some great potential for the city's schools.