GN -Greater Lowell Technical School Committee Chair Victor Olson took the time to respond to my Post and my questions. Here are his comments:
This matter has been misrepresented by a member of the Committee.
I received a telephone call from a member of the Committee regarding the purpose of the executive session.
I indicated as a matter of procedure that the Committee should come prepared to discuss strategy regarding an item in superintendent’s contract negotiated to have discussions between the Committee and the Superintendent regarding compensation. I subsequently e-mailed out a copy of the contract as a matter of procedure. Contract is online.
The contract language is as follows:
“3. Compensation: The Superintendent shall be paid a gross salary of $160,000 per annum for the period of July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. For subsequent years of the contract, the Superintendent and Committee shall meet each year on or before May 1 to discuss compensation for the upcoming contract year. At no time during the term this contract shall the superintendent’s salary be reduced.”
At no time it was discussed that the purpose of the executive session was to award a “bonus.” Any strategy of the Committee would be discussed as a whole and subsequently motioned, discussed and voted in open session. Adjustment in compensation could take different forms. The Committee was under no obligation to act on any type of compensation adjustment but the contract indicated that a discusion would occur each year. The Committee as a whole would decide each year if it would make an adjustment to compensation and to what form if any that would be.
The Committee member spoke to a Sun Reporter which resulted in several members being contacted by the Sun directly with a subsequent article and editorial published in the Sun regarding bonus issues.
The item under new business was worded.
“Executive Session for the purpose of conducting contract negotiations with nonunion personnel, specifically with the Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jo Santoro, pursuent to MGL c.30A, (a)(2).”
A motion was made, seconded and voted down to do such.
The Superintendent indicated that her statement to the Committee would include discusion of some items not released from executive session. She did not have the opportunity to discuss these since the motion was voted down.
I received a telephone call from another member of the Committee who after receiving a copy of the agenda indicated that discussions should be initiated and strategy discussed regarding renewal of the Superitendent’s contract. Given the language of the motion, initiating strategy discusions would be appropriate however that no action should be expected and that a follow up session to focus solely on this issue to discuss strategy should be scheduled.
Adjustment of compensation also has an impact on future contract negotiations and strategy especially when the term of a contract is to expire in 5 1/2 months.
Other forms of compensation adjustment other than a straight salary adjustment may have required a revision to the contract and a negotiated revision to the contract language.
The Superintendent was not notified in advance that negotiations would be done in a public session however, she made a public statement minus discussion of other executive session items and indicated at the meeting she would accept what the Committee decided.
It was expected that she would give her complete statement in executive session, would leave the executive session for the committee to discuss strategy and any action would be taken in public meeting by motion , discussion and vote in open session.
To the detriment of the school, some members of the Committee have made it a vendetta for personal reasons to drive the Superintendet out of the position and have made public statements to that effect. The manner in which the discusion occured was not in the spirit of the contract and I personnally found it disrespectfull of the position and members involved.
GN: I followed up with a couple other emails and will post Mr. Olson’s responses later today.