Business Administrator Dana Sullivan Leaving Montclair School District

She will become the business administrator in Westfield.


Longtime Montclair Public Schools Business Administrator Dana Sullivan will replace Vincent Yaniro as the business administrator in the Westfield school district on Sept. 1, according to an announcement made by Superintendent Margaret Dolan at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Tuesday night was the final board meeting for Yaniro, who is retiring in August. The former Chatham school official after his was abruptly removed due to having corruption charges brought against him.  

Sullivan, a certified public accountant and licensed public school accountant, has been the business administrator of the Montclair School District—which is comparable in size to Westfield's—for 15 years. Dolan, who served on the team that interviewed Sullivan and other candidates, commended Sullivan’s performance throughout the process.

“There was not one question we put forward that Dana was not able to answer comprehensively,” Dolan said.

As administrator, Sullivan will assist Dolan in preparing and administering the annual school budget. She will also serve as the board’s official purchasing agent, ensure proper maintenance with auditing requirements and tax laws, and supervise several levels of district personnel and business operations.

In Montclair, Sullivan has been key in the management of the district's finances.

At last week's Montclair school board meeting, it was Sullivan, for example, who explained that the district would boast another strong surplus this year.

The Montclair district also is searching for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Frank Alvarez as well as a new principal for Mount Hebron Middle School.

allaboutthenumbers123 June 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM
How long was she with the Montclair School District? In 2002, the tax levy for the schools was approximately $67M. It has climbed to over $104M in 2010. Has the educational product being delivered across the board to students improved in line with this 57% or $38M increase? A new (good) business administrator is definitely needed. The BOE has been very diligent. Thank you BOE for all of your hard work.
Shelley Emling (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I believe 15 years.
Belletones June 27, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Didn;t Sullivan already work part time for the Westfield district?
Shelley Emling (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Not that I know of..
Cary Africk June 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM
This comment is SO totally off-base. The Business Administrator does not approve the school budget, nor does she negotiate the contractual arrangements with the unions which probably represents 80% of the costs of any school district or municipality. I've personally worked with Dana for over eight years, four of which on this Council. She is considered by most in the State to be one of the, if not the, most competent business administrators. ANYTIME I met with her she was forthcoming with data, reports, and thorough explanations. As a member of the Capital Finance Committee Dana would come to our meetings with detailed reports listing every PENNY of every expense, line by line. She could tell you how much was allocated, and how much remained to be spent. She did this project by project. She does NOT set fiscal policy for the school. The BOE does. And, during this ruckus about "surplus" she was never ONCE asked for her "side" of the story. Blame was heaped upon her and she was never asked to explain. No one I know in an accounting, or municipal fiduciary position within NJ considers her to be anything else than outstanding. Bad day for Montclair!
Belletones June 27, 2012 at 08:38 PM
She was working part time for another district if not Westfield.
Cary Africk June 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Belle -- South Orange/Maplewood. It's on Data Universe. About $7K.
Shelley Emling (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Thanks Cary.
Montclair's Own June 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The mutiny is in full-swing here. Dr. Alvarez got tired of dealing with a BOE no longer concerned about education, and Mrs. Sullivan was probably none-too-pleased that she was the "fall-woman" for the "unbeknownst" surplus that the BOE now has at its disposal after playing Chicken Little last year. Just wait until the mutiny starts at the schools. Unbelievable that the parents in this district aren't seeing what is playing out here.
Cary Africk June 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Many things happened to create the surplus; many things that couldn't be anticipated such as 40 retirements, increased state aid, etc. The danger to Montclair is that with a surplus last year, and this, rather than use the money to stabilize or lower Montclair's gruesome taxes there will be people who want to spend it. On salaries and benefits. Tax bills are waiting to be sent out. The Council is bragging about "only having 300 appeals." That's because most of the Town looked at their ASSESSMENTS and saw they went down and said "Wow! My TAXES are going down!" Well, assessments are multiplied by a tax rate that is over 3.1 this year. OVER 4,500 homes will get tax INCREASES this year (2012). They will see the "damage" in their bills in July. But, SURPRISE! They needed to file an appeal by May 1st! No appeals for them this year! MO. You have a lot of insight. Mutiny is a very good word. I hear that we've only heard a thin "veneer" of concerns in the schools, that there's much more below the surface. Finding a replacement for Dana will be difficult. So will finding a replacement for Alvarex, at the lower salary allowed.
Adam June 28, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Cary, Who proposes the budget to be reviewed by the BOSE? Which individual should be the most informed, knowledgeable and therefore accountable for setting the budget? The work done by the BOE might be seen as the most (or only) effective project done under this councils term and Mayor Fried should get some credit for getting an effective board together.
Cary Africk June 28, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Adam, The BOE and its approach to fiscal sensibility was outstanding. Creation of the various committees was a tremendous accomplishment. I don't know in detail the inner workings of the entire BOE, but Shelly Lombard clearly deserves an award for leadership, patience, fortitude, and intelligence. And the other champion was Shirley Grill who was unceremoniously "tossed" from the Board which is certainly NOT an accomplishment of the Mayor. Shirley brought determined fiscal management to the board. Working together they brought success through the superb and talented committees which ran with the help of wonderful volunteers. Although I do understand that subsequent to Shirley's departure, the "final" financial review report, which was probably completed six months ago, was never released.
ira shor June 28, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Mrs. Sullivan had two jobs? A p/t gig along with the f/t Mtc one? Is this why 2 "surprise" surpluses escaped her attention 2 yrs in a row? A competent BOE would not allow its finance mgr. to be distracted elsewhere. And, Ms. Emling calls the 2 "surprise" surpluses things to "boast" about, using PATCH to spread "good press" about bad govt. Outgoing TC Africk agrees with Ms. Emling that surpluses are good news, it seems. Have these anti-tax folks visited our schools recently? Aides are badly needed but not supplied to overcrowded classrooms which must integrate spec ed kids, impossible to do in crowded classes without full-time aides. And, you cannot close the achievement gap with large classes. BOE under Sullivan, Lombard, Grill and Larson launched a labor war against our teachers and aides and a tax war against our kids. They threw good educ policy out the window to satisfy the anti-tax zealots in town who lost the last election though they still control the BOE, whose policies saved each ratable $131 by taking away family health care from our essential aides, shameful, and then Mrs. Sullivan and BOE announce an even larger surplus this year which they hurriedly give back to the TC so it can plan yet another $1mil beautification for one business street downtown. Our family life, civic peace, racial harmony, and property values depend on strong, well-funded public schools, which tax-cut zealots on the BOE are sabotaging each year.
Montclair's Own June 28, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Well stated Mr. Shor.
Adam June 29, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Who is anti-tax? I think many residents and BOE volunteers are anti-WASTE, and from two surpluses resulting AFTER people starting poking around under the hood (or a fiscal audit being done), it seems there was a lot of waste. Had the fiscal management been better, the $25M in surpluses over the last two years, or at least some of it, could have strategically been put to very good use, be it aids' benefits, a district wide computer initiative, allocating more to benefit the kids not at the high end or those with special needs, bringing back librarians, adding more art or music classes, whatever fits a long term strategic plan set by the best qualified people. In order to have strong public schools, funding is required, but as we've seen, just infusing more money into a system doesn't make a school strong.
ira shor June 29, 2012 at 02:24 AM
"Adam" opposes waste, but who doesn't? Can Adam or someone else please itemize specific waste in our schools? Tell us exactly what is wasteful instead of generally accusing. Many of us will refuse to tolerate waste, so let's hear about it in detail. Denouncing "waste in general" is not convincing. Family health care for our essential aides is NOT waste, for example. I proposed specific good uses for the two "surprise" surpluses which evaded the honorable Mrs. Sullivan two years in a row--reduce class size and provide a full-time aide for each classroom. These are two constructive uses of our tax dollars which will improve learning in our schools. The BOE's rush to dump dollars on a dysfunctional TC is anti-tax zealotry which hurts our kids, plain and simple. The anti-tax crowd soundly lost the May elections--anti-tax zealotry should not be allowed to dominate our BOE. The current BOE should step aside and be replaced by a BOE that puts our kids and our civic life first.
What I See June 29, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Thank you, Mr. Shor, for your comments. There's plenty of waste in the schools... just to name one small example, go into any classroom during the winter and you'll find the heat blasting so high that the windows have to be opened. I know there are many other examples of waste...
ira shor June 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I've heard this before; PTAs should be documenting this at each of their schools. PATCH and MTC TIMES should also be on this. Ask Bldgs and Grnds why heat is too high in winter, get answers, pepper the BOE with questions, visit classrooms and take the temperature in them in Dec., photograph open windows, that's what newspapers in print or online are supposed to do--"Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," as Joseph Pulitzer remarked many years ago regarding his own newspapers. Any other documented waste in our schools which should be focused on?
Adam July 07, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Ira, Attend the BOE meetings. Read the annual audit reports that list numerous issues in the very last pages. One example of blatant waste that comes quickly to mind was the "driver" on the school's payroll a few years back. The BOE took care of this situation. I recall hearing that there are people getting benefits that were not on the payroll. Many bank accounts don't get reconciled. I'm not even going anywhere near situations of inefficiencies like the number of teachers with tenure that have been moved to central office because they were not effective at their job. The list goes on and on my friend.


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