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Top jobs in Manchester schools on the line

MANCHESTER - Members of the Board of School Committee could decide tonight whether to renew the contracts of three top administrators.

Assistant superintendents Karen Burkush and Michael Tursi and Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis are working under contracts that expire on June 30, 2013.

The board will grapple with whether to ask the assistants to stay on without contracts so that the successor to retiring Superintendent Thomas Brennan can name his own top administrators,

"I think it will be a lively discussion," said Mayor Ted Gatsas.

Each administrator's contract sets a Jan. 1, 2013, deadline for the board to either vote to negotiate a new contract or send a notice of non-renewal.

If the board does nothing by the first of the year, the contracts are automatically renewed for one year, until Sept. 30, 2014.

The school district recently retained a head-hunting firm to find a successor to Brennan, who will leave his post next June.

Members have noted that the next superintendent could decide the $216,000 currently paid to the two assistant superintendents would be better used to hire four laid-off teachers.

"Those are discussions we ought to have, I'm pretty open to listening to what the issues are," Gatsas said. "I don't know what I as mayor would do if I lost four department heads, there are excellent employees in each department, but what do you do about setting policy?"

Each of the three administrators' contract states that not renewing the contract severs the "employment relationship" between the district and the employee effective June 30, 2013. The agreements do not prohibit the district from re-employing administrators to work without contracts.

Burkush is paid more than $111,000, while Tursi and DeFrancis are both paid about $105,000.

billsmith@unionleader.com


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