School Committee Members Chastise Scully for 20 New Hires

Superintendent James F. Scully and Haverhill High School Principal Beth Kitsos. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill School Committee members chastised Superintendent James F. Scully Thursday night for hiring 20 new staff without consulting the committee.

During a quarterly financial update, schools’ Business Manager Brian O’Connell reported overall expenditures, one month into the school year, are at a “reasonable rational pace,” but increased special education (SPED) and other needs led to 20 positions being added since late summer. After the presentation, Scully defended the administration against criticism leveled by Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. and Vice President Gail M. Sullivan. Scully noted the hires, authorized by grant funding for various positions, included two parent liaisons as part of earlier plans to redesign the department’s parent information center. He told the committee that since meeting with state officials on parent outreach in the district, he had to act on those positions, as well as others to meet the school system’s demands and changing dynamics.

“And every year, no matter what city or town you go to, at the beginning of the school year, you get hit with a myriad of demands that you don’t anticipate. For example, I didn’t realize we’re going to have to have a teacher for the deaf.  I didn’t realize I was going to get the teacher ‘floater.’ That’s something that hits you and you have to do it,” Scully said.

Scully conceded he would bring such matters to the finance subcommittee in the future.

“We got wind of how this was going in July. We should have, could have come to the school committee with a list that these are the potential issues we’re going to have personnel-wide and we’ll police ourselves on that matter,” Scully said.

Wood said he understood superintendents react to what’s happening day to day but estimated the added cost at between $1.2. million and $1.4 million. He added that, hypothetically speaking, there would be increased costs on the district, such as unemployment costs, if the committee were to cut the positions after the fact.

“Even if some of these are going to funded by grants the perception is that, ‘Oh, look! There goes the school committee again. They have all the money in the world. They just spent $1.5 million when, at the budget, they said they had to go through it with a fine tooth comb.’ We were picking out a thousand dollars here, $5,000 there and now we just added $1.4 million. It doesn’t make any of us look good,” Wood said.

Some positions would, according to O’Connell, bring certain SPED programs in-house as an economic alternative. While he indicated it was a sign the city schools are popular and “a natural attraction for students,” the department will “watch every penny, nickel and dime available to us.”

“The special education budget, obviously, has the impact as well of changing placements and changing responsibilities. At this point, that account is not a source of immediate deficit, but it’s a source of careful monitoring, more so perhaps even this year than our normal pattern would be,” O’Connell said.

One of the new hires is said to be a parent who came to Scully’s defense during the recent hiring of Kyle A. Riley as special education director.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini, committee chairman, was absent.

13 thoughts on “School Committee Members Chastise Scully for 20 New Hires

  1. 20 jobs. Created and funded over night. Why do we even have a School Committee? The schools run by the use of fear in this town.. Same thing on the city side. Why do we have a City council? Seems like we find and spend moneyall the time. My oh my. Where’s the oversight?

    Love our HPSD Haverhill Public Schools Dictatorship

    & don’t forget our city slogan: Come to Haverhill, you’ll REALLY be surprised

    Alright boys, let’s have at it!

  2. Funny how the Mayor is silent on this. After all he IS the chairman of the committee. What does he think ? Oh wait, it’s not an election year. Guess we’ll have to wait until next year for some of the typical grandstanding.

  3. “One of the new hires is said to be a parent who came to Scully’s defense during the recent hiring of Kyle A. Riley as special education director.”

    I’m really disappointed to see this printed in this article!!
    This is not news…this is gossip and heresy.

    She thinks she knows better than anyone else how things should run, especially Supt. Scully. Since being elected all she has done is be a divisive influence on the school committee and go out of her way to nick pick Scully on every little thing she can think of. People need to be aware of her self absorded personality and plan now to not reelect her.

  5. What was painfully clear was the typical lack of preparation of the Superintendent at School Committee meetings to intelligently address the status of student achievement, instructional challenges teachers face daily, building administration needs, or instructional initiatives of which he has no clue. All I ever hear from this Superintendent are “back in the day….” real or imagined irrelevant tales of his experiences, kudos to our athletes, and satisfaction when he hears that youngsters consider attending the Friday night football games to be a swell thing to do. The Assistant Superintendent would do well to direct his comments to the School Committee as though they are adults rather than as 7 year olds. The charts and information everyone was so impressed to see about CPI and PPI percentiles can be printed off the DESE website by anyone as it is public information. And YES CPI percentiles matter! So besides all the unanticipated SPED personnel among the 20 just hired…. how many security guards were hired to protect the iSchool, keep visiting elected officials safe from…..our dangerous community(?), and to combat the rampant littering by opioid addicts in Bradford after all? Sounds like fear mongering to me perhaps to over compensate for a lack of understanding of pedagogy and the instructional leadership it takes to talk the talk of progressive education.

    • If the school committee could act like adults maybe they would be spoken to as such..
      Living in this city and having first hand knowledge of the schools I can tell you he’s done more for this distr it than any of the past three superintendents. I’m sure you are on the other team and will pick apart anything and everything that he does but it’s time to suck it up and stop hiding on the internet

  6. Mr Scully always act in a way that is in the best interests of our school our students and our marvelous employees I’m confused as to why our committee is not forward thinking and not prepared for this situation there isn’t any blame as aparantly the state requirements were met

  7. I support the Superintendent. It is my understanding that part of the role of the Superintendent is to hire necessary personnel for the School system. I thought the role of the School Committee was to oversee not micromanage everything! I think that the need to save money to the extent of not staffing the School Department has harmed the District in every area but especially the SPED department. There are staffing mandates that must be followed! I see from the comments by a School Committe Member “It doesn’t make any of us look good” that everything is about them and not the needs of the District. I think School Committee members should be budget conscious; however if a member wants to micromanage and control everything then maybe he/she should apply for the Superintendent
    job when it opens again. I think putting forth the above message about the Superintendent is irresponsible and undermining to his role. I think that the School Committee could take the time to explain to the public that whether we agree or disagree that staffing is necessary to provide every child with an education!

    • Bravo!!!! spot on. The committee historically have always made it about themselves. I have lived in haverhill for many years and there seems to be an under tone/current of micromanaging. They need some training on letting folks do their jobs.

    • Joely, I agree with some of your comments but the law requires school committee approval to add positions to the budget. Are you advocating a blatant violation of Massachusetts General Law?