SAU Hiring: No Need to Consult Board

I have to give Peter Bealo credit.  As Chairman of the SAU, he is addressing an issue out front in the email he sent to the entire SAU board today. Not surprisingly, I disagree with his take on the issue, but I very much appreciate the fact that he addressed it and didn’t simply pretend it didn’t exist.

My readers will know that I have protested the advertising for an Assistant Business Administrator without the approval of the SAU.  The position is being advertised at a substantially higher salary than is currently being paid. ($61,000 now; $70,000 – $90,000 advertised.)

Mr. Bealo argues in the email that the position is not a professional one and therefore the superintendent is free to hire whomever he likes without approval of the board or establishing a search committee with board members, as required by Policy BBBH for professional hires.

His argument is below.  My response is after.

Fellow SAU55 Board Members,

I have fielded a few questions regarding the departure and replacement of SAU employee Cathy Smith, Assistant Business Administrator reporting to George Stokinger. The questions have revolved around the hiring process, Policy BBBH, and SAU Board involvement in the hiring process. I am sending this communication out to all members to ensure everyone has identical knowledge of the process and SAU Board involvement.

Policy BBBH states that professional level staff is hired by a committee composed of 2 Board members selected by the Chair and the Superintendent, but that office staff are hired by the Superintendent alone. See below:

F. ELECTION OF SAU PROFESSIONAL STAFF: When a vacancy occurs in the SAU professional staff, the Chairman of The Board shall establish a screening committee consisting of one Board member from each of the school districts. The Chairman of the screening committee shall be appointed by the SAU Board Chairman and the Superintendent of Schools shall serve on the committee (except if the Superintendent’s position is being vacated).

G. EMPLOYMENT OF OFFICE PERSONNEL: All other SAU personnel shall be recommended for employment by their immediate supervisor and approved by the Superintendent of Schools.

Professional Staff member is not defined in the policy, but has been interpreted historically to mean Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resource Manager, and Business Manager. When the Assistant Business Manager position was first filled in late 2005, the SAU Board and Administration at that time followed procedure G above, and she was hired by the Superintendent and her immediate supervisor. Minutes from that time do not indicate any SAU Board involvement.

It has been suggested that because the advertisement for the Assistant Business Manager states that a certification in addition to a BA degree ispreferred that this position should also be considered to be professional staff. I respond that a preference is not a requirement. This would be similar to a certified teacher working as a paraprofessional. In essence, they are overqualified for the present position. I don’t think that is a bad thing, it indicates that succession planning is being considered in the hire. 

It has also been suggested that RSAs define the Assistant Business Manager as a professional employee. I have examined NH RSA 273-A:1 VIII and disagree with that assertion: 

“Professional employee” means any employee engaged in work predominantly intellectual and varied in character, involving the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment, and requiring knowledge in a discipline customarily acquired in a formal program of advanced study.

This definition does not correlate at all to the position of Assistant Business Manager. The Assistant has little or no discretion in decisions and the position requires no advanced studies. By advanced studies, I take this to mean recognized professional certificates or college degree beyond bachelors.

In short, the new Assistant Business Manager is being hired by the Superintendent and the Business Manager. It is neither a new position nor a professional staff position, so SAU Board members are not directly involved in defining the advertisement, interviewing applicants or choosing amongst applicants. The Board of course looks forward to learning the results of the process.

I, for one, wish Mr. Stokinger and Dr. Metzler much luck in finding a fitting replacement person for this position and wish the new hire well.

If you wish to privately discuss this matter, please feel free to email or call me. Please avoid copying a quorum of the Board on your reply, its safest to just contact me.

Peter Bealo

Chairman, SAU 55 School Board

My response

There is no doubt in my mind the SAU’s Assistant Business Administrator is a professional position and that the superintendent should not be making the hiring decision independent of the SAU board. Here are the actual job qualifications required:
  • Business Administration or Accounting (NB: does not say “preferred”)
  • Minimum of 5 years in accounting with 1 yr supervisory
  • Certified or certifiable as a NH school Business  Administrator
  • Salary of $70-90k in line with what other NH School Business Administrators make according to NH DOE including Salem, Epping, and Dover
  • Kathy Smith (our former Asst. Biz Admin) is listed on the NH DOE Professional Business Admin Salary list

To me, this situation is yet another of many examples of the Timberlane board (and now the SAU board) failing to protect their authority and handing off their responsibility to the superintendent.

I’ve asked Mr. Bealo to call a meeting of the SAU board so the board as a whole can decide this matter. He replied promptly and in a most appreciated reasoned tone:

I appreciate that we hold different views, but I do in fact have the authority to make this decision. I will not abrogate my authority by calling a special meeting to ask the entire SAU Board whether or not I have this authority. If you disagree with sufficient vigor, please feel free to find 3 members to call a special meeting, and then find 8 members to convene that special meeting, since a quorum is required.
I really do understand taking stands on issues whether or not a “win” is available. I do it on occasion as well. You do what you need to do. 


I have already reached out to a number of my fellow Timberlane and SAU board members about this.  Only Sue Sherman  responded. This is where the matter will rest, then. You can bring a board to policies, but you can’t make them follow them.
P.S.  SNHU confers a Certificate in School Business Administration as a graduate program: SNHU graduate certificate
$90,000 and a graduate qualification isn’t a professional position at the SAU.  Hmmm…. I wonder how long ago the ink dried on the new name plate?


Filed under Sandown Issues

2 responses to “SAU Hiring: No Need to Consult Board

  1. JC

    What is wrong with these elected officials?!
    “Abrogate” his authority by not requiring to follow Policy in the first place for the hire. Let alone the SAU board accepting, approving the resignation or whatever it was. And the SAu board based on Supt recommendations determine/approving
    If position is still a needed position to be filled and pay scale by majority of the Board.

    And where in SAU budget is
    the $9k-29k in pay coming from?

    In the email, the Chair says referring to this posted – this shows planning in succession and is also incorrect in his summary of qualifications posted in job description. Did he read the job description before he sent out email?
    And then after shown with back up facts to be wrong, still dig his heels in his wrong position?

  2. Mark Acciard

    Mr. Bealo, I believe you made an error, the definition of professional employee in RSA273-A:1 VIII, stating;

    ““Professional employee” means any employee engaged in work predominantly intellectual and varied in character, involving the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment, and requiring knowledge in a discipline customarily acquired in a formal program of advanced study.”

    CLEARLY, when read IN CONTEXT, the term discretion, means keeping private, not revealing sensitive info, NOT as you evidently read it, Leeway, to make decisions.

    Further your stated qualifications DO indicate positions responsibilities commensurate with what any reasonable person would term a “professional position” In fact your criteria DOES require advanced studies, such as those required to become an accountant( a recognized professional position), Certified, or certifiable(no pun intended I am certain) as a NH business administrator, MINIMUM of 5 years as an accountant with 1 year supervisory experience.

    No matter how you skirt the issue these ARE professional qualifications. They are not what is normally meant by “office personnel”

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