January 14. 2014 9:33PM

Manchester school district administration expands with three new hires

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — The district is hiring three new administrators, including a new spokesperson for the school system.

The salaries for the spokesperson and for the other new position, an executive director to oversee a plan to improve struggling schools, are set to exceed the upper limit posted for the jobs. The salary of the other new hire — the clerk of the school board — will be more than $10,000 higher than that of her predecessor.

The Board of School Committee discussed the new employees and their proposed pay as part of the personnel report the superintendent presented at its meeting Monday.

The report indicated that the executive director would be paid $100,000 a year out of the district's general fund. The director would oversee the "Innovation Zone," a plan promoted by state and federal education officials to boost performance at seven city schools.

When the board first approved the "Innovation Zone" plan in November, the upper limit of the executive director position salary was supposed to be $80,000, and Superintendent Debra Livingston told the board that the plan would be fully funded with state and federal money.

Asked why the personnel report indicated that the position would be funded through the general fund, Livingston said that this was a mistake, and that it would in fact be paid for with federal money.

Livingston said the reason for raising the pay to six figures should be discussed in non-public session, which the board held later in the evening. After it reconvened, the board voted to approve the position at the pay of $100,000.

The new clerk, Maura Leahy, who has worked in the Office of the City Clerk, will be paid $50,000 a year, along with benefits, more than $10,000 more than previous clerk, Suzanne Sears. The board has also voted to expand the role of the clerk and to have her work at the district's administrative office. Sears had worked from home when she wasn't taking meeting minutes.

Leahy had previously been hired to be the clerk for the Charter Commission, which met last winter and spring.

Creating a public relations liaison was one of Livingston's first proposals when she became the new superintendent. The board backed hiring the public relations person to serve as a "cheerleader" for the district and to communicate with the public and the press.

First proposed as an hourly part-time job, the board backed making the position full-time and benefited, with a salary limit of $32,000.

The personnel report indicated that the new spokeswoman would be paid $38,000.

It's not clear if the board agreed to that amount on Monday.

Livingston's assistant, Tracy Mancuso, said a final version of the personnel report and information about the final votes taken at Monday's meeting would not be available until Wednesday.

Livingston did not return calls for comment on Tuesday.

The new spokesperson, who started work Tuesday, is Andrea Alley. According to her LinkedIn profile, Alley previously worked as the director of communications for the Southern New Hampshire Health System and for the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

At Monday's meeting, Ward 2 school board member Debra Gagnon Langton questioned several parts of the personnel report, including the salaries for the new executive director and spokesperson.

"I didn't support this to begin with," Langton said of the spokesperson job. "I thought teachers were more important at this point in time."