Crabtree touts hiring of School Committee Chair to part-time town clerical job
By Mark E. Vogler
School Committee Chair Jeanette Meredith began a new part-time job with the Town of Saugus this week as a “floating office clerk” who could play a versatile role, filling in as a substitute at various positions, according to Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree. “I think her experience and familiarity with the workings of the municipality is a plus,” Crabtree told The Saugus Advocate.
“That’s why HR [town Department of Human Resources] and I thought she would be a good fit. That’s why she was hired,” Crabtree said.
Meredith, a Saugus native and graduate of Saugus High School, is now in her fifth year on the Saugus School Committee – her third year as chair. She also chairs the Saugus School Building Committee, which has been overseeing the proposed Middle-High School, which is currently in the planning stages after town voters approved the $160 million project last June.
Meredith and her husband, Shane, have two daughters and two sons. She lists her occupation as a licensed private investigator at Moonlight Investigations, LLC of Saugus. But records at the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Division of Corporations lists her as the manager at Moonlight Investigations, LLC, a domestic limited liability company which was dissolved by Court Order or by the Secretary of the Commonwealth on June 30, 2015.
Meredith declined to be interviewed for this story.
Details of Meredith’s pay and benefits were not immediately available. But Crabtree said Meredith would be paid in the range of about $18 to $20 an hour as a part-time clerk.
“She’ll move around”
“She began this week and is at the DPW getting trained,” Crabtree said. Eventually, “She’ll move around,” substituting at various positions in town government, according to the town manager.
Recent turnover and vacancies in key clerical positions have put a strain on town government, making it necessary to hire part-time clerical help. “One of the things we have been struggling with in the town is filling different offices. We have a lot of one- and two-people offices … It’s a struggle to cover lunch sometimes,” Crabtree noted.
“We have a number of vacancies that need to be filled. We have two vacancies at the DPW alone – two full-time positions,” he said. There are several key full-time positions that the town is looking to fill after the recent departure of several top administrators, including the Planning and Development Director and the Human Resources Director, Crabtree noted.
One of the new positions posted on the Town Employment section of the Town of Saugus website is a full-time facilities manager to oversee the capital improvements projects, particularly the proposed Middle-High School project. Crabtree said he would also like to hire a town engineer to work with the DPW and the Planning Department on a number of large-scale development projects.
Cross-training of clerks planned
Hiring talented and experienced administrative staff – and retaining them for several years – has been a major challenge for the town because Saugus doesn’t pay as well as several comparable-sized communities in the region, according to the town manager. “Some of the [Saugus] salaries are on the very low side, making it difficult to compete,” Crabtree said.
In order to pick up the slack to cover important vacant positions, the town plans to “cross-train” its staff of part-time clerks.
“There is a learning curve when we hire from the outside,” the town manager said, adding that it’s more so when filling part-time clerical positions. When Meredith applied for the position, she had an advantage over the other candidates because of her background and local connections, Crabtree said. “She knows a lot of workers [employed by the town]. With her familiarity and knowing other people in town, that’s a big help,” he said of Meredith’s value to town government.
Crabtree noted what he considers another recent key part-time clerical hiring: long-time Chief Administrative Aide Susan Dunn, who retired last July after 22 years working in the town manager’s office. Her departure from Town Hall was brief. She ran and was elected to Town Meeting last fall, and she was hired as a part-time clerk at Town Hall to work in the Human Resources Office.