New Business Administrator Gets To Work
By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 10, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Just because it's summer, doesn't mean there's no school work to be done.
Bob Berry, SAU 21's new business administrator, came on board on July 2 to a full work load.
"Twenty years ago, it used to be a little bit of a slow down," Berry said of summer.
The halls of Winnacunnet High School are empty of students. Across the parking lot at the SAU 21 office, Berry is working to carry out the wishes of voters for school improvements that will ultimately benefit students.
He makes sure the spring budgets and warrant articles are carried out, overseeing the fiscal operations of schools in Hampton, North Hampton, Hampton Falls, South Hampton, Seabrook and the Winnacunnet Cooperative School District. He also oversees federal and state funds, capital projects for the school buildings, food service and other cooperative purchases and all contracts, except for those of staff.
Berry began coming to work well before July to the corner office last held for a year by William Sanders and before that, by longtime business administrator Fred Engelbach.
Before his new job, Berry worked for two years in a similar position for the Somersworth School District, which also included the town of Rollinsford.
SAU 21 is larger, and some might say unwieldy, in having six separate school districts; seven if the Joint Board is included.
"I was looking for more of a challenge," Berry said. "I see my role as being a resource for the superintendent and the board. The thing is you have six unique school districts, which all have their own way of doing things."
This includes, for the first time last year, six different bus contracts with First Student Transportation. The schools used to have one contract with the transportation provider but broke off because of the confines of a bus schedule that dictated starting and ending times of classes.
Berry is grateful for the support of a long-standing SAU 21 staff.
"I feel fortunate," he said, "the staff has stayed the same."
Berry, 56, of Dover, was also looking for a school district where he would remain until retirement, he said.
Berry is married and has two children. He is a former School Board member in Dover.
Before Somersworth, he worked in Hudson.
Berry, who is from Portland, Maine, received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine and was in the Air Force from 1971 to 1975. He got in at the tail end of the Vietnam War, but was put into clerical finance and sent to England, not Asia.
He moved to New Hampshire in 1982.
The next big issue facing the school district may be impact fees, he said. This spring, Berry, Assistant Superintendent Maureen Ward and Seabrook School Board Chairman Michele Knowles went before Seabrook officials suggesting the initiation of impact fees for residential developments that would likely have a significant impact on the school population.
"I really enjoy business officials' work," said Berry, "(I) enjoy being out in the community."