The City Council, during its February 3 meeting, voted unanimously to designate the members of the School Committee as special municipal employees. The matter was initially brought before the council on January 23 as Legislative Aide Michael Mangan and Veterans Commissioner Jeanne Cristiano had been sworn in to serve on the School Committee.
School Committee members currently receive an annual salary of $12,500.
During the February 3 meeting, Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith said it was necessary for the council to approve the designation. “Because you designate the position and not the individual, the entire School Committee is now going to be covered under the special municipal employee classification,” said Smith. “They cannot serve without this classification. To not grant this classification would be going against a vote of the residents.”
Councillor-at-Large Richard Dell Isola said it is admirable that Mangan and Cristiano would return their School Committee pay back to the district. “They could turn around and take the money and do what they want, but no, they’re going to take the money and give it back to the schools,” he said.
Ward 3 Councillor Anthony DiPierro said he would have felt better if the compensation was removed entirely. “You’re taking taxpayer funds and giving it to a different cause,” he said.
In her opinion to the council, City Solicitor Colleen Mejia said Chapter 268A of the Massachusetts General Laws allows employees who have been elected to paid positions to be designated as special municipal employees. “The statute does not bar the individual from receiving compensation for both positions,” she said.
In his letter to the council, Mangan said he did not want any compensation for his position on the School Committee. “When I decided to run for a School Committee seat, I was under the assumption that I could only be compensated for one city position,” he said. “I want to state emphatically that, as long as I am a full-time city employee and a School Committee member, I will not accept the salary for a School Committee member.”
Mangan also appeared before the council. He said in the weeks following the 2021 General Election, the School Department requested financial documents from the new members so they could be compensated. “I never submitted them and that was a month and a half ago,” he said. “That was never my intention.”