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$257,000 salary approved for new Boston schools chief

Tommy Chang is to begin as superintendent of Boston public schools on July 1.Stuart Palley for The Boston Globe

The Boston School Committee Wednesday night unanimously approved a five-year contract at an annual salary of $257,000 for the system’s new superintendent, Tommy Chang.

Under the deal, Chang, who is currently a school district administrator in Los Angeles, will also be eligible for a pay raise each year of up to 4 percent, based on performance.

In addition, the contract enables Chang to receive $2,500 a month in moving and “transitional” living costs for up to nine months, and he can collect up to $500 a month in reimbursements for using his car on the job.

“I’m honored to serve as the next Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools,” Chang said in a statement. “I’m eager to get on the ground here and to start listening and learning from the top-notch educators Boston has serving its students.”


Chang is expected to officially start his duties on July 1, but will begin working with Interim Superintendent John McDonough in mid-April to ensure a smooth transition.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Chang aboard,” said Michael O’Neill, School Committee chairman.

The terms of the deal are similar to the contract for former Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, who retired in August 2013. Her annual salary, however, was $10,000 higher and she never accepted a pay raise.

Chang’s deal was negotiated with the School Committee in quick fashion, after he was just offered the job last week. Contract talks can drag on for months. Chang was among four finalists who interviewed for the job.

Michael Loconto, the School Committee member who introduced the deal, said Chang was extremely humble in his approach to contract talks.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh applauded the deal in a statement.

“Ratifying this contract tonight means we are one step closer to opening a new chapter in the long history of the Boston Public Schools,” Walsh said. “Tommy Chang has the expertise and vision to move BPS to the next level, and I’m excited to see it happen.”


The contract approval was one of several high-profile actions that took place at Wednesday’s meeting, which also included a hearing on next year’s school budget and discussion of a former dean at English High School who was arrested last week after allegedly shooting a student.

Meg Campbell, a School Committee member, called for an independent review of the school system’s human resources department to see if it erred in the employment of the former dean, the Rev. Shaun O. Harrison Sr., and other individuals.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with human resources,” she said. “People getting through who shouldn’t have.”

O’Neill agreed with bringing in an outside firm to examine the department.

The hearing on the proposed school budget drew roughly 100 students, teachers, parents, and education advocates. The $1 billion spending plan is up 4 percent over this year’s amount, but costs are rising faster than revenues, causing the school system to pursue cuts.

Many people also testified Wednesday against the proposed closure of five schools this summer. And others voiced objections to scaling back food options in the cafeterias and reducing funding to individual schools.

“If you give Orchard Gardens the money it needs, it will be used in a good way,” said an eighth grader from the Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School.

Jahvon Bruton, a sophomore at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, urged the committee not to cut $1.5 million in per-student funding, a reflection of an anticipated 17 percent enrollment decline for next fall.


“We are digging a hole for Madison Park that we can’t climb out of,” said Bruton, who also is a youth leader with Sociedad Latina, a Roxbury youth advocacy organization.

“Madison Park is badly maintained,” he said. “If you step inside, you will find mice and roaches all over. The roof is leaking.”

James Vaznis can be reached at jvaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.