SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 20, 2013

New Beverly superintendent signs five-year contract

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The Beverly School Committee has signed a five-year contract with new Superintendent Steven Hiersche that will pay him $170,000 per year.

Hiersche is scheduled to start on July 1, 2014, unless he is released early from his current commitment as interim executive director of an educational collaborative based in Natick.

Matthew Kavanagh, chairman of the School Committee’s negotiations subcommittee, said the board wanted the stability of a five-year commitment from Hiersche.

“Based on the results of our community survey, that’s what the community wanted, and that’s what teachers and administrators wanted,” Kavanagh said. “He has a wealth of experience, and because of his experience, we were willing to give him a longer term than we were for an inexperienced superintendent.”

Hiersche said he is happy with the contract and is looking forward to coming to Beverly.

“Right away, I want to find some time to get up to Beverly after the first of the year before the contract actually kicks in,” he said. “I want to start the process of getting to know people.”

Hiersche, 62, said he and his wife, who works in Falmouth, will keep their home in Bourne on Cape Cod, but he will get an apartment in Beverly.

“It’s a full-time job. It’s not something I can commute to,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m in the area for events in the evening.”

Hiersche said he is excited to become involved with the process of building a new middle school. The City Council recently authorized the spending of $1.5 million for a feasibility study and schematic design for a new school at the site of former Memorial Middle School on Cabot Street.

Hiersche was chosen as superintendent by the School Committee on Nov. 15 over three other finalists. He has 17 years of experience as a superintendent, including in Framingham, Watertown and Plymouth.

The Beverly schools have been operating under an interim superintendent, Albert Argenziano, since former Superintendent Marie Galinski retired in June. Argenziano will stay on until Hiersche is ready to start.

Kavanagh said the School Committee arrived at the $170,000 annual salary for Hiersche based on a comparison with superintendent salaries in surrounding districts. Salem Superintendent Stephen Russell is due to make $175,000 in 2014, while Peabody Superintendent Joseph Mastrocola will make $168,000.

The School Committee also took into consideration Hiersche’s “wealth of experience” as a superintendent, Kavanagh said.

“We may have been able to hire a superintendent with either no or less experience at a lower rate, but I think he’s going to more than make up for that difference in salary based on his experience,” Kavanagh said. “We fully expect he’s going to be a good value for us as a community.”

Galinski was making $151,000 when she retired.

Kavanagh said Hiersche’s contract contains few extra benefits. He will be reimbursed for work-related travel expenses and for two national education conferences per year and will get 25 vacation days. There is no compensation for unused vacation days or sick days.

Any potential raises will be based on his job performance and the district’s ability to pay, Kavanagh said.

“I think we’re all looking forward to working with Dr. Hiersche,” Kavanagh said. “Our expectations are high based on the amount of his experience.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

Superintendent's contract $170,000 annual salary Covers the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2019 $75 per month for in-district travel 20 cents per mile for out-of-district travel (no reimbursement for cost of commuting) 25 vacation days 30 sick days in first year, 15 sick days in subsequent years