WEST NEWBURY — With an eye toward a potential $800,000 gap in next year’s budget, Pentucket Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen is proposing changes he believes will address the fiscal shortfall while strengthening what he says is the regional school district’s reputation for excellence.
The new superintendent’s comments came Tuesday night during a presentation on his recommended changes to members of Pentucket School Committee’s subcommittee on business, finance and operations.
“I want to make the arts and academics the core of what we do at Pentucket,” Mulqueen said.
The full Pentucket school board will consider the proposal at a business meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the high school.
Mulqueen’s plan, which is estimated to save $350,000, redistributes and streamlines resources by cutting several key administrative positions, starting in the central office. He stressed that the proposed cuts are not a reflection of “fat in the budget.”
“We have a very lean administration, but the problem is, we can’t afford what we have,” he said. “We have an operating budget. We need to operate within our means.”
Mulqueen is proposing eliminating the positions of assistant superintendent, the district-wide arts coordinator, and the leader of the community education program. In their place, he would create a director of academic and arts services to “coordinate instructional services throughout the learning community.” This position would also be the district’s key liaison for interaction and partnerships with the greater Pentucket community. Mulqueen said his goal is to “strengthen the communities by strengthening the school district.”
This flattening of the district’s organizational structure distributes curriculum decision-making to the department chairmen, who are, after all, the content experts, Mulqueen said. Principals will handle professional development decisions while “accountability for attaining world-class academics and arts performance” will be strengthened, he contended.