EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

June 7, 2013

City picks new school finance chief

Salary of nearly $80,000 expected

HAVERHILL — The allure of the School Department’s Central Office has tempted another retired administrator back to full-time work.

Following public interviews last night of two finalists to be the school district’s interim business manager, the School Committee voted unanimously to offer the job to Leighton O’Connor for a one-year term.

O’Connor, who retired in 2008 as business manager for the Gorham School District in Maine, has worked as a budget consultant for Haverhill schools for the past three years.

O’Connor also was Lawrence’s administration and finance director from 1988 to 1998 when Haverhill Superintendent James Scully was superintendent there. Scully also came out of retirement to work in Haverhill.

Scully said he expects the city will pay O’Connor close to $80,000.

“Given the complications of an urban budget, O’Connor has more experience and we worked well together in Lawrence,” Scully told the committee in recommending O’Connor for the position. “When we arrived in Lawrence, their budgets were packed away in shoe boxes, but we made it run well for 10 years.”

Scully said O’Connor has been working as a consultant for Haverhill schools for about three years. He was initially hired to analyze the budget at the city-funded Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School, Scully said. More recently, O’Connor has been reviewing the district’s health care systems to identify potential cost savings, the superintendent said.

“He has worked well with Kara, which will help with the transition,” Scully said of O’Connor.

Kara Kosmes, Haverhill’s longtime assistant superintendent for finance and operations, is leaving July 1 for a similar job at Whittier Regional Technical High School.

Mayor James Fiorentini raised concerns that because O’Connor is collecting retirement benefits, he can receive pay for no more than 900 hours annually, or about half a year, according to state retirement rules. O’Connor said he has no plans to stop his pension, but that he will “volunteer” his time in order to fulfill his year-long commitment to the district.

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