By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher
File this under the category of things that make you want to scream as a taxpayer.
It has come to light that Peabody’s School Committee – on top of the $100K-plus fully loaded settlement with deposed superintendent Joe Mastrocola – is paying Herb Levine $158,400 to serve as interim super for the 2015-16 school year.
Not a bad take for Mr. Levine, a Peabody resident who has made a very nice living lately as an interim super. But, alas … there’s more!
According to his new Peabody contract, Levine, 67, will also receive 30 days paid vacation, up to 20 sick days, and a free trip (I say it’s a free vacation) to the annual superintendents’ junket in Phoenix in February.
But it gets even better! “Tell him what else he’s won, Don Pardo.”
Well, Herbie, of course, also gets to keep collecting his $118K a year taxpayer-funded pension as a retired full-time super.
And, then there’s a nice big piece of “cake” for Herb’s buddy, Charles Chaurette, who served as Levine’s second-in-command during their days together in Salem.
On Levine’s insistence, Chaurette – who already receives a $115K a year taxpayer-funded pension – will work three days a week and be paid $50,000 for the school year as interim school department human resources director.
Let’s face it, as jobs for retirees go, this certainly beats Levine and Chaurette having to collect the shopping carts at Hannaford, or hand out smiley face stickers at Walmart.
If you’re keeping score on this, so far the school committee’s decision to not keep Mastrocola for the final year of his contract will cost Peabody taxpayers — with all benefits and Chaurette’s salary included — almost $200,000 extra for the 2015-16 school year. Think about that the next time your kid says that the teacher needs you to donate boxes of Kleenex for the classroom because there isn’t enough money in the school’s supplies budget.
So why are we fleecing the taxpayers by automatically handing the interim job to Levine, a man who clearly has no concept of the phrase “hometown discount?” Well, by now, if you don’t feel that something stinks here, then maybe you should have your nose checked.
Peabody advertised the interim superintendent’s job this summer on an education job site, posted the job internally, and received 18 applications. But after this “nationwide search,” they interviewed no one while making Levine one of the wealthiest men in Peabody. The vote to hire Levine was 6-0, but Jarrod Hochman was the only member to vote against the odious contract everyone’s favorite educational hired gun eventually received.
The School Committee then sent out retiring member David McGeney, who no longer risks political peril, to do the dirty work of telling the Salem News that the application process was simply “procedural.” Apparently, none of the 17 other applicants were even worth talking to, since we all know that Mr. Levine has scary brilliance that makes him an overwhelming, without question, choice for this big pay day for he and his buddy.
Wonder why member Brandi Carpenter didn’t speak for the committee on this “brilliant” decision, which will now cost taxpayers an extra almost $200K this year? Wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that she’s battling for her life right now in an election year, and wants to run for cover from this decision that will have taxpayers — especially those seniors on fixed incomes — screaming for her political demise?
Brandi needs to realize that more than 80% of those who vote in every election are over the age of 60, and no longer have kids in Peabody’s schools. They are also the ones who haven’t exactly been thrilled to have their property taxes go up each year for the past 15 years.
But the voters shouldn’t ONLY blame her. Current school committee member Ed Charest is asking to be elected Ward 4 Councilor this fall. Great, just the type of fiscal irresponsibly we need on the City Council too!
The only saving grace for the taxpayers at this point is that at least two new faces will be on that school board come January, since two members are leaving. Hopefully, we the taxpayers can make it a clean sweep with three.
Has the phrase “time for a change” ever had greater meaning in a Peabody election?
Not in this lifetime.