North Adams Public Schools may share business manager with North Berkshire School Union

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NORTH ADAMS — After two failed attempts to find a new business manager, the North Adams Public Schools has narrowed its search — to a neighboring district.

The School Committee on Monday signed off on an agreement to share the North Berkshire School Union's business manager.

If approved by the North Berkshire School Union's committee on Feb. 15, the two districts will share Business Manager Carrie Burnett.

"We are taking a leadership role in Berkshire County in looking at how we consolidate services in support of some realities regarding declining enrollments — and limited options with respect to salaries and attracting highly qualified candidates," said North Adams Public School Superintendent Barbara Malkas.

The district launched its first search shortly after former Business Manager Nancy Ziter announced she would be retiring at the end of December. It yielded six applicants and two finalists, both of whom ultimately withdrew their names from consideration.

A second search ended with one qualified finalist, who the district decided to pass on after checking references, according to Malkas.

Malkas then opened negotiations with Jon Lev, superintendent of the North Berkshire School Union, to share the services of Burnett. The North Berkshire School Union includes Clarksburg School, Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida, Rowe Elementary and Emma Miller Elementary in Savoy.

"I feel that Ms. Burnett is a highly qualified candidate and is really up to the task," Malkas said.

At the time of her retirement, Ziter earned a salary of $90,690.

The districts would share the cost of Burnett's salary, which will begin at $90,000 annually, plus benefits. Any future salary increases would be negotiated.

The superintendent also fielded questions about how Burnett's time would be split.

"There's an expectation that this person will manage their time accordingly to ensure the scope of the work is being completed in both districts," Malkas said.

Burnett would undergo an employee evaluation under state-approved rubric annually by April 1.

The shared services agreement runs through June 30, 2019, with an option to extend for two years.

If North Adams decided the arrangement was not beneficial, it would have to notify the business manager by April 1, 2019, that it would not be extending the contract.

Multiple members of the School Committee expressed a desire to review the arrangement prior to the April deadline.

"It gives us that chance to evaluate how is it working," member Tara Jacobs said.

Since Ziter's retirement at the turn of the new year, North Adams has been utilizing The Management Solution for its business administration.

The district's contract with The Management Solution expires on March 15.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-496-6376.


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