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Levine Hired as City Consultant

Dr. Herb Levine, who recently finished a yearlong stint as Peabody's interim school superintendent, will be staying on as a paid consultant for major initiatives and projects within the city and schools.

Dr. Herb Levine is back…or is it really that he never left?

Yes, he did go on vacation last month, but Mayor Ted Bettencourt and School Superintendent Joe Mastrocola announced Tuesday that as of Sept. 1, Levine would be on the payroll as a consultant, continuing to lend his wealth of experience and expertise in a variety of roles to Peabody.

“I am very grateful that Dr. Levine has agreed to continue serving his hometown after such a distinguished career in education,” Bettencourt said in a statement. “Particularly during this period of major transition within the School Department and at the human resources level, Dr. Levine’s assistance will be of great benefit to me as Mayor.”

Levine, who has lived in Peabody for more than 30 years and spent more than 40 years in public education, .

as Mastrocola returned to Peabody, and during that time, set in motion a number of key initiatives for the district along with and . His tenure did not come without some bumps along the way, such as the  and then a plan to .

Levine said earlier this summer he would stay around to help with the transition phase of new key administrators and other projects, but no mention was made at that time of a position as a paid consultant.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Levine will be available to assist us going forward,” said Mastrocola. “Herb’s credentials speak for themselves and he has a wealth of knowledge based on decades of experience in the trenches.”

Mastrocola said Levine will likely be helping with the implementation of the state’s new teacher evaluation system and help oversee several ongoing school construction projects.

Earlier this month, the city’s Human Resources Director Heidi Henson stepped down from her post, leaving a void in the city’s operations until a permanent replacement is hired. Bettencourt said Levine and other city officials would be sharing those HR duties for the time being, especially as they pertain to union negotiations that are now underway.

Bettencourt is looking to follow through on years of talks by elected officials and for the sake of efficiency and cost savings.

Bettencourt said Levine, in addition to HR, would be handling specific projects and tasks for a monthly stipend of $5,000, substantially less than what Levine was paid as Superintendent. Bettencourt said this consultant’s position will just be on a month-to-month basis as needed.

Bettencourt, still not even a year into his inaugural term as mayor, stressed that with major changes underway for the city and schools, Levine’s guidance and input is greatly valued. “It seemed to make sense,” he said, on retaining Levine’s services.

“Dr. Levine has always offered to be of assistance in any way possible,” he said.

Paula August 30, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Kind of hoping that "as needed" is for a long time - he is such an asset to have for Peabody
Liz Shields August 30, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Now let me get this straight. The city hired a new superintendent and also an asst superintendent and between the both of them still cant do the job? Obviously Mastercola is truely not qualified if he needs a consultant to lean on in his first days in the position. It's like getting hired as a CEO and the company telling you that we have hired the the ex-CEO as a consultant because we dont have faith in you. Honestly I do not have faith with the hiring of Mastercola or the promotion of the new asst supt. So what are these two people actually doing for that large amount of money we are paying them? Onto Levine, there were a bunch of negative articles about his poor decisions for the short time he was running the school district. For someone that has "a lot of experience" he sure did a number on a couple of the schools in West Peabody. Also, his tenure in Salem has more to do with his building projects than his success at developing the schools ciriculmn. This city wants to move forward but yet they bring back recycled product. Mastercola had issues with his previous boss but the school committee must of had some belief that he was partially in the wrong to not fire Burnett.So lets bring Mastercola in as boss at a huge pay raise.Then you have Levine who caused a PR nightmare for some of the schools and their adminstrators.So you think this is someone who that can move the city forward? I find him to be smart but his ego is a little too big for himself.Big Fail!
Greg August 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM
It's actually commonplace (and smart) to retain the outgoing executive(s) to participate in a transition of this type. This is a good practice and one that is well-used in the business world. Running a $60M+ enterprise is complex....and providing your new leadership with the institutional knowledge and support is important during this time-frame. And getting Dr. Levine on a month by month contractual basis is true icing on the cake. Well done all around.
Kathleen August 30, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Couldn't agree more Liz...I happen to think that Dr. Levine was the best thing to happen to the Peabody schools in a very long time. I don't put the blame on him for the whole debacle with the principal issue. I think that he was only doing what he was told to do by a higher authority. My issue is with the school committee. I really question the hiring of Mr. Mastrocola. I don't really see this as a vote of confidence in him. Mr. Mastrocola has less than two years of experience as a superintendent. When he was hired back in Feb. committee members were quoted as saying that they were 'impressed with his qualities like communication and leadership'. I believe Ms. Dunne commented on 'how he can bring people together, his ability to listen to people'...Yet recent articles have shed light on how Mr. Mastrocola was clearly unable to get along with Dr. Burnett and it was to the point where former Superintendent Burnett and then Assistant Superintendent Mastrocola were engaged in a dispute with lawyers and accusations flying back-and-forth in months before Mastrocola left. I have been waiting for over ten years now to see improvement in our schools. The constant turnover in administration is an embarrassment and is unacceptable. The people that have been sitting on the committee for YEARS need to resign or be voted OUT. We have a school system with a budget of almost $65 million and it is mediocre at best. You hit the nail on the head about moving forward with recycled product...
Kathleen August 31, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Greg, keeping Dr. Levine on as a consultant is truly the icing of the cake as you say. However, as you pointed out, running a $60+M enterprise is very complex. Which is exactly why I think the city should have gotten someone with a lot more experience for the job...

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