NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 13, 2012

Port schools to hire interim finance chief

By Lynne Hendricks Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The school district will likely be doing away with one of its two assistant superintendent positions this winter, replacing departing Assistant Deirdre Farrell with a business administrator at the close of this fiscal year.

Given that the bulk of Farrell’s duties were primarily focused on keeping the school’s finances in order, focusing in on a candidate with the same skill set is something school leaders feel is important. But that decision will be made with the help and guidance of Dr. Jim Picone, who has accepted the job of interim administrator for finance and operations for Newburyport. He plans to come on board in early December.

“I will be hiring Dr. Jim Picone to be the interim administrator for finance and operations,” said Superintendent Marc Kerble in an email. “I will be working on the terms with Jim in the next five days.”

A former colleague of Kerble’s who worked with him for a short time in Winchester, Picone is a retired superintendent with a good deal of experience serving on an interim basis for districts seeking full-time candidates. In the past few years, he’s helped Georgetown, Salem, Winchester and the educational collaborative in Stoneham through personnel transitions.

Before retiring in 2009, Picone spent five years as the superintendent of Burlington Public Schools, and 15 years prior to that as the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance (1988-2003). He also spent six years as the school business administrator for Peabody Public Schools (1982-1988). Per his resume, he achieved the “highest performance evaluation for 3 consecutive years of any Burlington School superintendent in the past 25 years.”

Kerble told the School Committee last week that Picone was highly sought after for his ability to come into a district and hit the ground running.

“Dr. Picone has extensive experience in education as a superintendent and assistant superintendent of finance,” said Kerble. “Once he retired, Jim worked on the MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority) board two days a week regarding building projects. He has extensive experience with finance and budgets. He will oversee main areas such as the FY13 budget, FY14 budget, be the education liaison to the building projects and will help the SC find a new business administrator.”

According to Kerble, Picone will spend several days working with Farrell before her departure in early December. Then the district will be looking to Picone not only to take over Farrell’s duties, but also to examine the roles and responsibilities of Central Office staffers to see if some of Farrell’s responsibilities can be absorbed by others, or if management duties can be better aligned by streamlining them under either Assistant Superintendent Angela Bik or Kerble himself.

Principals, current staffers and support personnel are expected to weigh in on the realignment as well.

“The administrator of finance and operations will examine all roles including that of the superintendent,” said Kerble.