A state-guaranteed $14 million to $16 million line of credit is good news for the city of Lynn and its residents. But the loan comes with added value, including its language smashing the residency requirement for two of the city’s most important jobs.
Doing away with residency for the public school superintendent and city chief financial officer (CFO) is akin to teleporting from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. It is absolutely absurd as well as detrimental for the city, as this newspaper has previously editorialized, to allow an archaic live-where-you-work requirement to limit the pool of candidates for the superintendent job and CFO before the search for qualified candidates to fill both jobs even begins.
The bottom line is that qualified job candidates who do not currently live in Lynn may not want, if hired, to uproot their families and move to the city in order to meet a residency requirement.
The search for a superintendent and a CFO could not be more important for Lynn.
Lynn’s school enrollment encompasses students from countries all over the world who speak an array of languages. The city provides special-education services and, like every other school in America, is shouldering the challenges of making schools safe from violence, sexual harassment, bullying, and a myriad of other problems.
Lynn’s oldest schools need replacing and the next superintendent will work with Mayor Thomas M. McGee to craft a school-construction plan that will receive close review by state officials. It is ludicrous, not to mention myopic, to imagine the possibility of Lynn hiring the most qualified superintendent while hamstringing the search process with a residency requirement.
The loan plan city officials are ironing out with state revenue officials places accountability and reporting requirements on the city that must be overseen by a competent finance professional.
The legislation spelling out the loan’s terms also outlines the parameters for a city trash fee. It creates a City Council budget- and management-analyst position and sets up a working group to review health insurance for city employees with recommendations due to the mayor and council by October.
All of these stipulations, and others, including a state Department of Revenue audit requirement, are going to place demands on even the most professional chief financial officer. The legislation’s crafters, in their wisdom, struck down residency for the next CFO in order to provide the city with the broadest possible advantage in competing for the attention of qualified and highly-skilled financial professionals.
The legislation grants the same latitude with regards to hiring the next superintendent. Public education is, simply and succinctly put, too sophisticated and multifaceted to restrict the hiring pool.
Thankfully, the loan legislation does away with residency restrictions, thereby giving the city a fighting chance to compete for a strong superintendent or provide an opportunity for an education professional now working in the city but not residing here to apply for the public school system’s top job.
The best superintendents and CFO in the state are sought-after professionals who throw their résumés into a job market where cities and towns and county governments — not to mention businesses and state government — compete for their services.
Lynn needs every advantage possible to attract the best finance and education minds at a time when the city needs strong and steady hands to guide it in the right direction fiscally and academically.