Saccarappa Elementary School Principal Brian Mazjanis will take over as Westbrook School Department Interim Financial Director following Heather Neal’s resignation last week.
The school department is now looking for an interim principal for Saccarappa and a permanent replacement for Neal.
Neal has been widely credited with helping reduce the school department’s deficit to $ 588,054 on the more than $ 3 million in debt discovered in early 2020 and blamed on financial mismanagement.
Neal was hired in August 2020 when city officials asked the school department to hire a finance director with the appropriate financial knowledge.
Although Mazjanis does not have a background in finance, Mayor Mike Foley, a vocal critic of the department’s past financial woes, said he and city administrator Jerre Bryant believed Mazjanis would do well, especially a once the school department has filled an open accountant position.
“I am optimistic, he will be able to fulfill this role and help the school department through this period. He will admit that he does not have all the accounting skills, but It is been a school administrator for allong time and is Superintendent-certified, ”Foley said.
“They recognize through the deficit that they were weak in the financial management of schools, ”he added,“ and I have the impression that they are try to step up and make improvements.
Superintendent Peter Lancia said the decision to bring Mazjanis on board so quickly was due to the department’s immediate need for a CFO to continue working on the deficit and take care of a number of grants. Directors are easier to find than CFOs, he said.
Mazjanis holds a doctorate in public policy with a concentration in leadership and education policy from the University of Southern Maine. He started in the school district as an interim principal in 2006. He recently had surgery and didn’t respond to requests for comment before the American Journal deadline.
Neal, a resident of southern China, said her lack of success in finding accommodation closer to Westbrook was the main reason for her resignation.
“I am sad to be leaving Westbrook. I had long term plans for the district and looked forward to leading WSD to great opportunities. I hope that all of my hard work will continue to lead the way for years to come, ”said Neal.
She accepted a position as CFO for the nonprofit Maine Math & Science Alliance in Augusta.
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