LOWELL — Joel Boyd won't start his new job as the next superintendent of Lowell Public Schools until July 1. Technically, he is still a Boston Public Schools employee with principal evaluations and other duties on the horizon.

But the first set of changes under his leadership have already been set in motion.

In his first presentation before the Lowell School Committee as a contracted superintendent, Boyd proposed a reorganization to the top tiers of Lowell Public Schools administration.

After a brief discussion, the proposal was approved by the School Committee in a 7-0 vote.

"There are multiple challenges with the current organizational structure," Boyd said. "(Employees) report those challenges as hindering our productivity and those hindrances would be perpetuated if we maintain the status quo."

The plan eliminates the long-vacant and much discussed human resource director position and the similarly vacant assistant superintendent of student support services position. It also cuts the deputy superintendent role — a stipend-payed role taken on by one of the district's three assistant superintendents.

The plan will not require any layoffs. Instead it adds three positions: chief operating officer, chief schools officer and chief equity and engagement officer. Each are budgeted for a $150,000 salary.

The two remaining assistant superintendent positions will be renamed with reorganized duties.

Boyd said these changes will ease the burden on an executive staff already stretched too thin, while also assigning duties that are currently not being addressed.


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"I'm hearing from those individuals that are working in our schools that they're stretched so far that that support is not happening in a way that our schools feel they can deliver their best for every kid every day," Boyd said.

New duties assigned to these positions include construction support for Lowell High School, emergency management, professional development, benefits support, equity and culturally sustaining practices, management of community partnerships, translation and interpretation services, community and media relations and strategic planning, among others. Recruitment and hiring will be handled by the chief operating officer under this plan.

"Nothing is going to be perfect, but we can't let good be the enemy of perfect," Boyd said.

The two cut positions and retired deputy superintendent role will create an estimated savings of $325,609 in next year's budget. Including health care and other costs, the three new positions will cost $510,000.

Documents presented to the School Committee list savings from the retirement of 10 employees as a funding source for the new positions. The employees announced these retirements after the fiscal year 2020 budget was drafted, according to district Chief Financial Officer Billie Jo Turner. Because new employees make less than employees at retirement age, this is listed as a $250,000 savings, she said.

The savings from the cut positions, combined with the retirements, covers the cost of the new positions with $65,609 left over.

Boyd said the positions will be posted Thursday. Employees to fill the positions will be hired by the superintendent.

School Committee member Connie Martin and Mayor Bill Samaras praised the plan, particularly the new position focused on equity.

"I share the enthusiasm, particularly around the office of equity," Martin said.

In her farewell speech to the School Committee, Superintendent Jeannine Durkin reflected on her busy year as the head of schools said she likely would have proposed a similar plan if she had continued in the position.

"We know that what we were doing this year was not sustainable," she said.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @ElizDobbins