Boston's bill to land the right school boss hits $1.4M ... and counting

2022-05-28 04:35:13 By : Ms. Ruby Pan

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The city’s seemingly never-ending search for the right school boss has racked up a $1.4 million bill over recent years, according to a Herald payroll analysis.

Letting Superintendent Brenda Cassellius go before her contract is up will cost taxpayers $314,000 for her exit fee. She earned $306,415 for the calendar year 2021.

She heads out of town as of June 30.

A search firm is billing Boston $75,000 to help recruit her replacement and an interim superintendent will probably be needed until the right person is found, officials say.

The last interim superintendent — Laura Perille — earned $129,807 in 2019 and $119,230 in 2018, records show

She filled in after Tommy Chang was let go in 2018 after collecting $149,117 in pay that year and $301,465 in a buyout of his contract, according to city payroll records. That move was made by former Mayor Martin Walsh, now U.S. Labor Secretary.

“All this turnover is destabilizing for students and teachers because the superintendents serve at the whim of each new mayor, so the superintendents can never be here long enough to carry out their plans,” said Lisa Green, president of the Boston Coalition for Education Equity. “We’re also paying out all this money because of this system.”

After months of Mayor Michelle Wu and her team saying a new superintendent would be ready by July 1, the school district may face the prospect of yet another in a long line of interim superintendents followed an even longer line of superintendents.

Weeks after taking office, Wu said she wanted someone who would “hit the ground running.” A city spokesman said the search for a new superintendent has “hit every milestone on the timeline” laid out by the search committee, but whether a new superintendent will be ready to take charge after June 30, when Cassellius will step down, remains unclear.

At Wednesday’s school committee meeting, search committee co-chair Pam Eddinger and school committee member Brandon Cardet-Hernandez said an interim would be needed.

Eddinger said the search committee has received 34 applications from a mix of superintendents and executive leaders, some with and others without familiarity with Boston, one of the traits Wu said she’d prefer.

About 20% of them made the first cut, Eddinger said.

The board will interview candidates in executive session, so as to preserve the confidentiality of applicants, they say. Following interview rounds, the Search Committee selects finalists for public presentation.

In early June, the school committee will announce the final candidates and schedule the final interviews.

Public interviews for finalists will be held in mid-June, and in late June the school committee will vote to offer the position of superintendent to the final candidate.

Out of a field of seven firms that responded to the school district’s request for proposals, One-Fourth Consulting/JG Consulting of Austin, Texas, was the firm that the school committee chose, at a cost of $75,000.

This all rolls out as the state is watching with a receivership being held back, for now.

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