Michael MasonMichael Mason

Town Hall’s loss is Arlington Public Schools’ gain.

Michael Mason Jr. will stay at the APS central office -- with, as of January, an enhanced title and an increased salary -- rather than becoming deputy town manager next month at Arlington Town Hall.

APS, also known as the town’s school department, is governed by the Arlington School Committee.

As of the first of the year, Mason is being promoted at APS from chief financial officer to the assistant superintendent rank, making him the third person at that level in a district with 10 campuses and slightly more than 6,000 students.

According to Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, who recommended the plan to the committee's members, that staffing makes sense in the light of anticipated enrollment growth. improved district functioning and best practices at similar districts elsewhere in the commonwealth.

The committee vote in support of the recommendation took place during closed session of a special committee meeting Thursday, Oct. 20.

Link to contract

See the contract and reference material here >> Per the contract, the annual pay rate will start at $170,000 and is to increase to more than $180,000 toward the end of the three and a half years.

In response to a YourArlington query, committee Chair Liz Exton provided this statement later Thursday evening:

"Briefly, the district conducted a thorough search for a chief financial officer for the Arlington Public Schools. Our initial search committee interviewed seven candidates and moved two finalists forward for consideration.

“Those finalists interviewed with members of the central office staff, administrators, teachers, and community members, and completed a performance assessment to demonstrate their skills on four tasks required of the role of CFO.

“At the conclusion of this search, we were not able to successfully identify and reach a contract agreement with one of the finalists.

“Dr. Homan then provided Mr. Mason with a counteroffer that included a title adjustment to assistant superintendent of finance and operations, which he accepted.

"The committee unanimously approved a three-year contract for Michael Mason as Assistant Superintendent of Finance for APS from Jan. 1, 2023-June 30, 2026." 

Town response

Noting that Mason had not started work at Town Hall, Town Manager Sandy Pooler told YourArlington on Friday afternoon: “The deputy town manager is an important position to support me and to lead the town's finances, and I will move forward to fill it.”

Select Board Chair Len Diggins reacted this way Friday afternoon: “My happiness for the Arlington Public School system far outweighs any sense of loss! Indeed, it hardly feels like a loss, because Michael Mason will still be a part of our community. I'm very confident in our town manager's ability to find another capable individual.” 

Superintendent statement

Also contacted Friday afternoon, Homan replied:

“We are very pleased that Mr. Mason is staying with the school department as the assistant superintendent of finance and operations, which will become effective on Jan. 1, 2023. He brings great value and skill to school system finance and has demonstrated his expertise in leading operations during my time as Superintendent.

“Reorganization of administrative functions is something that I have been considering for many months, and that began with the appointment of an Assistant Superintendent of Student Services last school year; this structural adjustment allows for continuation of our efforts, which I believe are necessary to improve the capacity and functioning of the organization following a time of rapid increases in student enrollment and expansion of staffing at all levels.

“These are roles that are very common in similarly sized districts throughout the state. A statement about the rationale for this decision was shared with the School Committee last night and can be found here.

“The total budgetary impact of this change on the FY23 budget will be about $6,500 and will improve our ability and capacity to provide expanded services for APS students and families.” 

Mason explanation of the decision

Mason himself told YourArlington on Friday:

“It is true that I did accept the new role as assistant superintendent of finance and operations for Arlington Public Schools. I know that this decision is a change in direction from serving the town as a whole as the deputy town manager, but I felt that there is still work and professional growth for me at this time with Arlington Public Schools.

“Over the last few months while I waited for the transition and replacement, I have reflected on the fact that I was leaving a highly collaborative team where I could still build upon my management skills under Dr. Homan's leadership. The expanded role will also help me build capacity to still serve Arlington in a greater capacity in the future.

“In addition, after accepting the deputy town manager position, I was made aware of how much of an impact I was to the school department. I still have work to do with my colleagues in regard to our work on equity and capacity building before I would make any professional changes again in the future.

“Last but not least, I am committed to Arlington. I hope that the community understands that serving the schools is still serving Arlington. Arlington has been very supportive, and I look forward to continuing to serve this community for the years to come.”

Aug. 18, 2022: School CFO Mason appointed deputy town manager

This news summary by YourArlington education reporter Judith Pfeffer was published Oct. 21, 2022, based on questions posed to and emailed responses from all school and town officials cited in the report.

Donate button, 300pxThis reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here.YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible. Donate here >>