NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 9, 2012

Mulqueen charts new course for School Committee

Subcommittees to meet on first Tuesday, full board on third Thursday

WEST NEWBURY — The Pentucket Regional School Committee instituted a new meeting format this month that it hopes will result in more efficiency and transparency.

Instead of meeting twice monthly as an entire group, members will spend the first Tuesday of each month in various subcommittee meetings and then hold a business meeting with the full group on the third Tuesday of the month. The discussions held during the subcommittee sessions are intended to inform and facilitate the agenda of the full committee meeting.

The brainchild of Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen, the new approach separates all Pentucket board business under four umbrella categories: business, finance and operations; human resources; teaching, learning, and accountability; and policy.

Subcommittee meetings are held in one-hour increments from 5 to 9 p.m. in the superintendent’s conference room at the middle school. Most of the sessions at the inaugural meeting in this format last Tuesday ran shorter than the full hour allotted.

Members of the Business, Finance and Operations subcommittee — Chairman Brian Page of Merrimac, Jill Eichhorst of West Newbury and Jack Willet of Groveland — met with Mulqueen and Business Manager Michael Bergeron to review a new pyramid approach to the budget format. The full board will get its first peek at the preliminary budget for next year on Dec. 18.

They also received an update on a $160,168 reduction in assessments for the district communities due to financial adjustments in ongoing school building projects at the elementary level. And they heard a pitch from Bergeron for a salary increase in the Central Office accountant’s position. Moving the salary up to a range of $60,000 to $65,000 would bring it more in line with an average salary for similar jobs in this area, he said. The current accountant, who took on considerably more work without extra compensation for several months while the district was in between business managers, earns $53,820.

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