In what might end up being the first in a shake-up of the current School Administration come March 1 when new Supt. Priya Tahiliani starts work here, the School Committee on Monday night approved a new position that would serve as Tahiliani’s “Number 2” in the new configuration.
Chair Tom Abruzzese introduced the motion to the Committee, and it passed unanimously. Abruzzese said the request came from Tahiliani and would be a person coming in from Boston that she currently works alongside.
“She and I talked and she said she would like to be able to bring in her own second in command,” he said. “By state law, the superintendent with permission of the School Committee can have their own administrative staff. My though on it was we want to give her all the tools she needs to succeed…We’ve been doing things a certain way for so many years, this gives us a fresh outlook and a new approach. It’s just new people. Maybe it’s time to shake it up.”
That has brought about a lot of questions about current administrators – questions that have lingered for some time. Many of the deputy superintendents have continued on after the departure of former Supt. Fred Foresteire. With a new superintendent in place, many wondered what would happen to those that remained.
With a new #2, many wondered if that meant that Asst. Supt. Charlie Obremski would be replaced, as he was widely believed under the old administration to be second in command.
Committeeman Marcony Almeida Barros said that is not the dynamic, but that positions would be better defined and tasks would be spread out.
“We have a bigger district and we have two assistant superintendents,” he said. “Mr. Obremski handles the budget and hires and maintenance. I think it’s a lot for one superintendent to handle and it makes sense for any new superintendent to bring in someone he or she knows professionally to come in and help…We just hired a new superintendent and she is only bringing in one person. Other superintendents in other districts have wanted to bring in two, three or four new people. I think it’s right to spread the duties around.”
Vice Chair Frank Parker said he agreed with the new position as well, noting that there are 7,444 students now in the district.
“We are spending $50 million more per year, have 100 more teachers and 2,000 more students since 2008,” he said. “The needs and demographics of those 2,000 new students is a lot higher than it was in 2008. What we’re trying to do in bringing in a new deputy superintendent is we have another person to handle the workload and handle compliance issues. So many times is see assistant superintendents and even Mr. Naumann at the high school expend all day on other issues and the things they want to do they don’t have time for.”
Abruzzese said Tahiliani has created the job description for the new position, and they would likely be negotiating a contract with that person soon. He said the current assistant superintendents make around $150,000 per year, and he expected the new person would be somewhere above that figure. The new deputy superintendent would start on March 1 as well.
Abruzzese said this is not a situation of replacing the “#2” in the district, and that the current people in administration would be working in concert with the two new administrators.
“Was Charlie the #2 or was Dr. Stella the #2?” asked Abruzzese. “I don’t know if I’ve every known. Another thing Priya plans to do when coming in is to have job descriptions for everybody working in Everett Public Schools so everyone has a clear understanding of what their job is and what’s expected of them. Quite frankly, I don’t know right now what the job descriptions are now for the two assistant superintendents…The fact is for the last 30 years all we’ve known was Fred Foresteire was superintendent. That’s the one sure thing I knew. Starting on March 1, you’ll be able to know what every administrator’s job title and responsibilities are.”
He said he hopes that the combination of the new deputy working with the two existing assistant superintendents – all under Tahiliani – would be a great combination of talent.
• Parker Calls for Assessment
Member Frank Parker called for an audit on the workforce at Monday’s meeting, and after some debate, was able to get it sent to the Committee on Finance.
On Tuesday, he said he probably hadn’t used the right term for what he wants to do.
“I think audit is not the right term,” he said. “I think the right term is an operational financial assessment. It is about how we do things, what tools do we use and how can we be do things better…We have multiple people doing tasks and I think we can be more efficient.”
• Students Meet Committee
For the first time ever, the School Committee met with the Student Advisory Council.
That had never happened before in all the years of meetings, and students appeared Monday night to voice their concerns over recycling in the schools.
The bigger story was the new dialog that has opened between the students and the Committee.
“They are great kids and that was really the best part of the meeting for me,” said Abruzzese.