A Four Year Contract for the School Superintendent

“I’m not an easy person to work with — if you look into my background I don’t allow School Committees to interfere with my work,” he said. “The beauty of me in all of this is you can go ahead and fire me any time you want. I’m ready to retire, so I don’t really care about any of the politics.”


Above is the new 4 year contract given to the Superintendent at last night’s School Committee meeting. If you look at many area school districts 4 year contracts are becoming the norm.

It does provide stability in that position but my main objections are to the length and the built-in 2.5% yearly increase not tied into an evaluation. I only have 1 other concern about it.

I am concerned that the following language accepted by this Committee weakens their rights and responsibilities to ask questions directly to the Business Manager / Asst. Supt. of Finance who under Ed Reform is suppose to be one of the people who is a direct hire by the School Committee and whether this limits the ability of a School Committee member from asking the City Auditor who works for the City Council but is also responsible for auditing all school accounts to provide information about school funds?

They also are stating that the “District” will be spending tax dollars on an independent audit over and above the audit the city presently conducts and pays for.

WHY? and how much are they spending because the pay increases for the new contracts are in the budget but I did not see any funding for an audit and who is doing the auditing?

I did not see a motion on last night’s agenda to issue an RFQ for Auditing Services but the wording in this amendment clearly states they will do an audit from his first date of employment and then annually after so an audit from July 2016 is due or they will conduct in in early 2017.

This Committee had NO response to the City Audit which showed the following:

Auditor’s comments:
“The School Department transferred approximately $1.0 million from the Milk and Lunch
revolving fund to account for indirect charges originally charged to the general fund budget. Normally any indirect charge transfers anticipated are incorporated as part of the formal budget process. This gives the City Council all necessary information to make an informed decision regarding the approval of appropriations. In this case, the $1.0 million transfer was not approved in the formal budget. This is significant because had the transfer been part of the budget the City Council may have reduced the School’s appropriation request by the amount of the anticipated indirect cost transfer. The Transfer was determined after year end and had the impact of increasing the School’s available appropriation by the $1.0 million charged to the Milk and Lunch revolving fund”.

Instead the Committee turned a blind to what was a money grab by the school dept. despite the city exceeding Net school spending requirements. Rather than meeting to resolve this with the Manager’s Office they allowed what the auditors show to be very questionable transfers.

It is clear under Ed Reform that The school committee reviews and approves budgets for public education in the district. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 37) and that The school committee has authority to determine expenditures within the total appropriation voted by the city or town.

This amendment which states “it is the through the Superintendent” I believe infringes on the right to directly ask the Asst. Supt. of finance for information. Under Ed Reform that position was purposely left under the school committee has a check and balance to get direct reports.

One of my main issues with this present committee is their lack of fiscal over site and questioning of this Supt. and by agreeing to this language, they have made it so that the next school committee cannot ask for fiscal accountability without going through the Superintendent.

Did the Law dept. approve of this language? I note that the City Attorney has NOT signed off on the posted copy. I am wondering why not? Can a candidate or a current school committee member ask the City Atty. to rule on that language?

Under Ed Reform DESE clearly shows the following: (BOLD MINE)

A. Hiring authority for particular positions

1.Superintendent, assistant/associate superintendents, school business administrator, administrator of special education, school physicians and registered nurses, legal counsel, supervisors of attendance

State law: The school committee is responsible for appointing personnel to the following positions:

Superintendent: The school committee has the power to select and terminate the superintendent, and to establish his or her compensation. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 37)

Assistant or associate superintendents: On the recommendation of the superintendent, the committee may establish the positions of and appoint assistant or associate superintendents, who shall report to the superintendent. The superintendent recommends to the school committee candidates for appointment to the position of assistant or associate superintendent. The committee shall approve or disapprove the appointment, but shall not unreasonably withhold its approval. If the superintendent requests, the committee shall explain its disapproval of a recommended candidate. The committee sets the compensation of the superintendent and the assistant or associate superintendents. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 59)

School business administrator; administrator of special education; school physicians and registered nurses; supervisors of attendance; legal counsel:The Education Reform Act did not change several pre-existing statutes that refer to the school committee appointing certain personnel.

I know the Supt. doesn’t want to let School Committee’s get in his way but the taxpayers/voters elect School Committee people to watch over the expenditures and ask questions so it is clear where funds are being spent. So far this current committee’s seems to worry more about awarding raises to the Supt. and his staff than asking questions about fiscal matters.