Haverhill’s New Shared Schools/City Facilities Director Dorrance to Focus on Preventative Maintenance

Roof repairs at the Charles C. White Pool at Haverhill High School in June 2020. (Courtesy photograph.)

With the City of Haverhill and its schools agreeing to keep a joint maintenance department and hire a $145,000 facilities director, discussions have turned to the scope of work that needs to be undertaken.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini told WHAV Monday that he expects the revamped department to follow recommendations recently suggested by Matrix Consulting Group.

“My goal is to improve preventative maintenance, number one. One of the first tasks will be to devise a good preventative maintenance plan. Preventative maintenance saves you money, and then to hire outsourced companies who will implement a large portion of it,” the mayor said.

As WHAV reported Monday, an agreement was brokered during a closed-door session of the School Committee last Thursday night. Despite being rejected by the board at least twice before, members voted 4-3 to adopt a compromise plan that calls for the city to chip in $25,000 towards the new facilities director’s salary. The school administration also agreed in a written pact that a city-paid “associate director” would report to the mayor. School Superintendent Margaret Marotta is hiring Stephen D. Dorrance of Georgetown, who is expected to begin at the end of the month.

Dorrance, who resigned last week as Belmont’s facilities director, has a master’s degree from Harvard in organizational development and bachelor’s from Suffolk University. Before working in Belmont, he was the bureau director of facilities for state Department of Public Health hospitals.

Most school hiring is the responsibility of the superintendent under state education reform law. A School Committee vote was required, however, because Dorrance’s salary came in above the maximum $120,000 members previously approved. In a statement, Marotta said, Dorrance “emerged as the universal choice of the interview team.”

Marotta said the director will be responsible for 17 schools and 23 city buildings. Besides maintenance staff, the schools separately employ about 60 custodians.

Dorrance and his future assistant effectively succeed Facilities Supervisor Heather Forgione, who left last week after her position was eliminated from the school budget.

Fiorentini said the position of assistant will, at least for the time being, be filled by an existing city employee who will be paid a stipend to take on the added work.

Besides the mayor, favoring the plan were School Committee Vice Chairman Richard J. Rosa and members Paul A. Magliocchetti and Gail M. Sullivan. Opposed were members Scott W. Wood Jr., Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello, and Toni Sapienza Donais.

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