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June 28, 2010

GLTSC to meet again on Superintendent Contract!

by at 4:54 pm.

Tonight the Greater Lowell Technical School Committee (GLTSC) will be holding another special meeting to discuss the contract of the school’s newly-elected superintendent, Mary Jo Santoro.

On this blog as well as other on other ones, the GLTSC lack of transparency and antagonistic attitude towards tax payers who are requesting accountability and the right to be heard has been discussed a number of times.

Erin Smith of the Sun has been aggressively following the story and the paper has editorialized on a number occasion, including this past Saturday when they called to “End era of secrecy at Greater Lowell Tech.”

We urge the committee to hold a public meeting and to release the details of Santoro’s contract. Residents of the schools’ sending communities who are funding the institution, have a right to know how their money is being spent.

The contract with [retiring Superintendent Jim] Cassin has received considerable criticism in recent years, and justifiably so. The superintendent was first hired at an annual salary of $112,000 in 2003 and saw his yearly pay skyrocket to its current level of nearly $190,000. Cassin’s contract had such outrageous inclusions as automatic annual raises of more than 5 percent and merit bonuses of up to 4 percent.

So tonight, this School Committee has an opportunity to reverse their direction: have an open meeting, allow and encourage the public to speak and vote for a contract that is fair and reasonable. If the obstructionist on this Board thinks that the media and the public will go away, they are not only politically tone deaf but this behavior and attitude will be the catalyst for major changes come next fall.

9 Responses to “GLTSC to meet again on Superintendent Contract!”

  1. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I believe at least one commenter on this blog was at the meeting. Looking forward to hearing about how it went.

  2. Paul@01852 Says:

    Yes Mr Lynne is correct–I was at the meeting and was allowed to give a 2 1/2 minute prepared address to the board. I requested that any subsequent contract meetings be held in open session and that once a contract was finalized that a public hearing be called before the board had their final vote to approve. Both points were essentially ignored by the board. Immediately after my address the board voted to go into executive session for “strategy” discussions. This lasted for approximately one hr. The board returned to open session only to vote to immediately go back into executive session to “negotiate” with Mary Jo Santoro. The negotiations lasted approximately 45 minutes following which a contract was printed and signed by the board an Ms Santoro

    The 3-year contract calls for $160K salary for the 1st year with standard vacation and sick leave. The interesting aspect is that there is no raise or bonus given. The salary for subsequent years will be negotiated on or before May 1 of each year. There is a sell-back of sick and vacation time but is limited to 10 days per year with no provision for a lump sum payment at retirement or contract termination.

    The Sun has more: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_15399791

  3. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I want the interviews aired on LTC. My understanding is that the GLT School Committee would have to ‘approve’ of them being aired. Too convenient.

  4. Michael S. Ready Says:

    The speaking limit of 2 ½ minutes by this board is a joke! I have addressed many, many boards over the years and the typical time limit, when imposed, is 5 minutes. And that is rarely enforced. Only when there is more then one speaker and/or the meeting is getting along in time have I been placed on a time limit. Wasn’t it Chairman Laferriere who recently stated to the Sun that they ‘never have members of the public apply to speak’. This limit screams of the unyielding opposition by the GLTHSC to what they deem to be “outside interference”. Most boards and board chairs that I have presented to are committed, respectful and accommodating to what I and the overall public have to say. In other words, they welcome our comments, even when in opposition to their own. Not to mention that the public speaking opportunity is a cherished and critical component of our democracy. Truly the only opportunity for the average citizen to take an active role in their governance.

    The members of the GLTHS board are pushing so hard against the tide of accountability that their muscles must be aching. They are so oblivious to what their role is in this whole thing called governance.

    Furthermore, newly appointed Superintendent Mary Jo Santoro should do the right thing and NOT fill her present position of assistant superintended/principal. What few people know is that this $131,000 per annum (plus annuity) position never existed prior to Cassin’s similarly orchestrated ascension to power back in 2003. He had barely warmed his newly acquired Superintendent’s chair when he created out of the air, this and other positions to accommodate himself and his loyalist friends. What, I ask, warranted the creation of such positions? And were these “new” positions approved by our elected GLTHS Committee? Did we have a spike in student enrollment in 2003? I doubt it.

    So our esteemed GLTHS board members vote to make James Cassin the highest paid Superintendent in our entire Commonwealth (currently $191,000 plus annuity) and he, in-turn, uses his power to create positions thus significantly lightening his work load. That guy is one smart cookie! And about that board……..

  5. Paul@01852 Says:

    I would assume GLT “owns” the tapes and would be under no legal obligation to share them with anyone including LTC. It’s probably the same with tapes from regular monthly committee meetings. I wonder how the board would respond if someone like MoveLowellForward were to request copies of the tapes or DVDs of the interviews?

  6. Paul@01852 Says:

    Michael sorry to be unclear. I was not limited to 2 1/2 minutes; that just happened to be the length of my prepared address. They seemed to be quite accomodating–they had a signup sheet already waiting when I arrived and “pleasantly” called me forward to speak. Didn’t do a whole lot of good but at least I got my ideas out in the open. I am disappointed in Erin Smith and the Sun. There is a not a single mention of either of my requests to have public debate on the contract and/or to have a public hearing prior to the committee signing the contract. In fact I am considering a letter to the Sun expressing my disappointment and alerting the citizenry to my/MLF’s requests to have a more open process with citizen input.

  7. Shawn Says:

    Paul,
    Once the contract was signed, all executive session minutes and tapes should become open to the public.

  8. Lynne Says:

    I’m trying to remember…was there any sort of public hearing/public input around the final contract or hiring of the CM or superintendent?

  9. paul@01852 Says:

    The problem with all this info becoming public now is “who cares?” The contract is a done deal! Don’t matter what you, I or anyone else says now, the contract is signed, sealed and delivered. In fact I have a hard copy in my hand right now! Neither you nor I nor anyone else besides the 8 SC members had even the slightest bit of input! We are lucky the Sun blew the whistle on the “email approval process” that was about to happen because had they not the whole deal would have been a small subset of the committee of the whole. I don’t even know who other than Dave Tully was on the negotiating subcommittee and I only know that because it was mentioned last night!

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