Pioneer School Committee contracts firm to fill business manager role

  • PAQUETTE Screenshot

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2021 3:18:51 PM

NORTHFIELD — After interviewing three candidates in one night, the Pioneer Valley Regional School District School Committee voted to enter negotiations with The Management Solution Inc. (TMS) to fill the district’s business manager position.

Andy Paquette, TMS president and owner, interviewed before the School Committee via video chat on Aug. 18. After deliberation, members voted to offer TMS the business manager position. A salary or associated fee for the company’s services is still being negotiated, as well as the length of contract, according to School Committee member Alan Genovese, who chaired the Business Manager Search Subcommittee.

The other two candidates who interviewed for the business manager position were Juli Copoys, who most recently worked as the school business administrator for South Buffalo Charter School in Buffalo, N.Y., and Peter Roche, who has worked as a visiting lecturer at Framingham State University and as business manager for Beacon Charter School in Woonsocket, R.I.

Paquette said TMS will have been in existence for 15 years in September, and its primary focus is “providing school districts all across New England with business management services” on an interim or extended basis. He said the company assigns one TMS employee as a lead contact person for school district administration and the school committee, but then the entire firm provides support “behind the scenes.”

“The bullpen, as I fondly call it, you won’t see them,” Paquette said.

Prompted by questions from the Pioneer School Committee about success in other districts, he said TMS’ track record has shown it “can make some significant changes in less than a year’s time.”

“Even I’d say, six months or less, if you wanted to look at a timeline for that, because we just bring the volume of experience we have and the bandwidth we have,” Paquette said. “With both our full- and part-time staff available to us, we have many resources at the ready to help out districts.”

While details with the Pioneer-TMS contract are being negotiated, Paquette told the School Committee that a lead contact typically works on site in the district for a couple of days a week and will be in “constant contact” while working remotely the rest of the week, in addition to attending one School Committee meeting each month.

School Committee Chair Julie Burke noted the Pioneer Valley Regional School District is currently operating under state oversight. Paquette said his company has experience working with districts under these circumstances.

During discussion after the interviews, School Committee member Michele Giarusso said she was in favor of TMS, noting the company’s experience implementing cost-saving measures in other school districts. She said TMS has been working with the Greenfield School Department for a number of years, and after a six-month contract last year the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts renewed their contract with TMS for another full year.

“I think the thing I most appreciated about them was that they have a very comprehensive depth and breadth of knowledge in a variety of areas,” Genovese said of TMS.

School Committee member Stephanie Winslow said she was “blown away” with how knowledgeable Paquette was and the depth of services TMS is willing to offer. Fellow committee member Michael Townsley said he appreciated the company’s experience and that there is no minimum length required to set a contract, leaving the district open to extend a contract with TMS or seek individual persons to fill the role at a later date.

Townsley moved to offer the position to TMS and enter negotiations for a contract. Ten members voted in favor, with Nathan Swartz abstaining because he was not in attendance for Paquette’s interview at the start of the meeting. Member David Young was absent.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.




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