Wellesley Superintendent Bella Wong announced today that the School Department is appointing an interim business manager to fill in for Ruth Quinn Berdell, who went on paid voluntary leave Nov. 18.
Peter D. De Roeve will start tomorrow, said Wong.
“He comes highly recommended and we’re really looking forward to having him join us,” she said.
De Roeve has held school business administration positions in Wakefield, Wilmington, and Triton Regional schools, said Wong.
He has also served as an interim business manager in Fall River and Andover. He just finished up his stint in Andover this past June, according to School Committee Chair Suzy Littlefield.
He retired from Wakefield in 2008 after ten years with the district, she said. Before that, he worked at Triton Regional from 1995-1998; and at Wilmington from 1986-1995.
He received a bachelors of science in accounting from Boston College in 1971, and a masters of education in school administration from Boston State College in 1976, she said. De Roeve is also a Massachusetts Certified School Superintendent, and an active member of the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials, said Littlefield.
De Roeve will be paid a per diem rate, said Littlefield, and will work full time. He won’t receive benefits or vacation. According to state regulations, De Roeve can’t work more than 960 hours in a year. Littlefield said that he will start out full time and if he starts getting close to that number, he will drop down to part time.
Littlefield said she isn’t sure how long he will remain in the interim position. Berdell went on voluntary paid administrative leave after the school department came under fire last spring when it was discovered that the business office failed to collect about $169,000 worth of school lunch debt. A subsequent audit found sloppy accounting practices in the business office. No misappropriation was discovered.
Superintendent Bella Wong announced on Nov. 10 that she was resigning, effective at the end of the school year, citing “ongoing public concern over school operational protocols” that had put the School Department on the defensive and undermined her capacity to advocate effectively for the district.
“Peter is willing to serve through the summer, so that might be what we do,” Littlefield said. “This is an interesting time. Do you hire a new [business manager] now under the current superintendent? Or do you have an interim in place until a new superintendent is hired? There’s something to be said for letting the new leader pick their own.”
The focus for De Roeve, she said, will be the school budget. The school department needs to have a voted budget by sometime in late January, she said.
Littlefield said she was looking forward to working with De Roeve. “He’s quite nice,” she said, and he has plenty of experience in an interim position.
“He’s great, and he’s used to it – having done it twice,” she said.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.