Haverhill School Committee Outlines Role of Future Business Manager

Haverhill Schools Business Manager Brian O’Connell recently agreed to step down at the end of the school year. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Thursday night’s approval of a new job description for Haverhill school’s business manager began to shed some light on the School Committee’s intentions going forward.

Brian O’Connell announced his plans to step down at the end of this school year, but not without some controversy. O’Connell faced mounting pressure to step aside and has left open the possibility of future legal action. The 69-year-old business manager’s three-year $130,000 contract expired back last June. It became more evident last month that O’Connell would step down after the School Committee canceled its planned closed-door negotiating session at the last minute.

Haverhill School Committee members debated over both the reclassification of the current opening in the business office and a proposed job description for superintendent of business and finance operations.

Citing a Massachusetts Association of School Officials report from this year, Superintendent Margaret Marotta told School Committee members that the increased responsibilities for the future business manager would greatly benefit the school system.

“Our operations department, like many of our schools, operates in silos. Each has sort of a director. But they don’t sort of report up to anybody in a department form where they communicate. They have meetings, there are checks and balances. I’ve been trying to fill that void.”

School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. voiced some hesitation in regards to the change in the assistant superintendent’s duties and responsibilities. Wood said that if he had to choose “only one” job description, he would choose the general superintendent as opposed to targeting the finance and operations side.

“There’s always been the debate of ‘well, what should the assistant superintendent’s responsibilities be?’ Should they be curriculum based? Because that’s really the most important things that we do,” Wood said. “So, should the assistant superintendent oversee curriculum? Should they oversee the finance and operations? Or should they be just a general assistant superintendent that oversees basically everything along with yourself?”

As expected, in a 4-2 vote, the School Committee approved the posting as recommended by the superintendent. Voting to approve were Vice Chairman Sven A. Amirian and members Paul A. Magliochetti, Richard J. Rosa and Gail M. Sullivan. Beside Wood, opposed was Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello.

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