After 5 years in Wareham, school business manager accepts job in Cohasset

By Matthew Bernat | Apr 20, 2018
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Wareham Public Schools Business Manager Michael MacMillan leaves the district on June 30. He accepted a new position in Cohasset.

His resume includes a stint in London with the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the Department of Homeland Security, working on billion-dollar budgets and mingling with members of Parliament.

But for the past five years, Michael MacMillan has been business manager for Wareham Public Schools, overseeing finances and explaining budget decisions to voters, parents and teachers in the district. Recently, he accepted a new position as director of finance and operations for Cohasset Public Schools. His last day in Wareham will be June 30.

The Wareham position was his first foray into education. He holds an MBA in public finance and studied law for four years in his native Scotland. In London, he worked for a government agency focused on security. Both of his parents are teachers, and he saw the move to education as a step up.

“As a member of the finance team for a big, government agency, you’re a much smaller cog in a much bigger machine,” said MacMillan. “Here, you have a much bigger impact on fewer people.”

Before coming to Wareham, he did some work in Barnstable schools, implementing new technology systems for students. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife, a Massachusetts native, and two daughters.

Stepping into the Wareham position was difficult, he said. MacMillan’s predecessor had been on leave for almost a year due to illness. Also, a new superintendent had just been hired. Soon, though, he learned the intricacies of school budgets. Explaining the numbers to school and town officials, as well as voters, was a skill he honed in London.

“In both situations, there’s some political stuff going on, but my job is to present the information in a way that will be intelligible to people,” he said.

MacMillan said he’s looking forward to furthering his career at Cohasset and was proud of his time in Wareham.

“I loved all of it,” he said. “I enjoyed my experience working here and I’m looking forward to seeing how another district operates and manages. I think that would be good for me, professionally speaking.”

School officials are currently tasked with closing a $600,000 gap between what is available from the town to fund education. Potential cost-saving measures include closing Minot Forest Elementary and laying off upwards of 30 teachers and staff.

It was up to MacMillan to present that information to school officials and residents, including during one public hearing in February attended by a couple hundred people – “far and away the most people we’ve ever had for a budget discussion,” MacMillan said at the time.

Through the difficult discussions, MacMillan said he was impressed with the close working relationship town and school officials have cultivated over the past few years.

“The relationship between the town and the schools has been great,” said MacMillan. “We might disagree, and we’re supposed to have different views, but we do it with a level of professionalism and respect that’s a credit to the town.”

Comments (14)
Posted by: Curiouscat | Apr 20, 2018 15:22

WOW!  Did not see that coming. Ha.

Posted by: bob | Apr 20, 2018 15:50

Boy,this is old news....

Posted by: Kress | Apr 20, 2018 15:58

Wareham has become a training ground.  If you can make it through the battleground that is Wareham, you can make it anywhere.  We seem to be losing a lot of good people  The most disturbing, to me, is the flight of many of our stellar students to Cape Cod Regional and ORR.  How many out-of-district students transfer to Wareham?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Apr 20, 2018 16:34

Cohasset!  Now that's going to be a breath of fresh air for him.  No explaination nesessary for getting out of Dodge.

Posted by: Duffman | Apr 20, 2018 18:39

Perhaps he knows someone will look into the budget.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Apr 20, 2018 19:52

90% in Cohasset to post-seconday school and a "highly academic community." Class size 22. Wareham can only dream.

Posted by: JollyRoger | Apr 20, 2018 20:37

"Perhaps he knows someone will look into the budget."

If anyone wonders why talented, motivated public servants doing their best to serve Wareham choose to leave, look no further than this comment.

Posted by: Uptohere | Apr 21, 2018 16:51

And just how long has he been looking for a new position?

Posted by: Duffman | Apr 22, 2018 09:16

"If anyone wonders why talented, motivated public servants doing their best to serve Wareham choose to leave, look no further than this comment."  Apparently you don't remember the incident where the athletic director embezzled money from the school.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Apr 22, 2018 12:33

Michael has been a tireless servant of you folks. He has impeccable integrity, and has busted his butt for the Town of Wareham for the time he has served here. I had the privilege of working with him and witnessing his talents. The comments (while people are free to say whatever they want) are dog whistles that there may be a conspiracy blowing in the wind. NOT with this gentleman. And you wonder why folks dont want to serve our Town and work 80-100 hours a week, and give up their family time, and have a personal life, just read the comments. Funny though most of the folks that throw the rocks, and try to start conspiracy theories never put their name on a ballot or raise their hand and volunteer to serve our Town. Michael has done a GREAT job for you and he and his family should be thanked for their service to our Town. You wont find anything hidden under rocks after he's gone.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Apr 22, 2018 14:15

That's right!  Michael was great.  I had the pleasure of working with him and he was outstanding.


There is no need for conspiracy theory with this matter.  It is real real simple.  He found a better job in a better place.  Good for him!  Most would have done the same.


Cohasset as a whole is an ideal paradise!  Not one bit comparable to Wareham or any other average place.   We should be happy that we had someone of his caliber for as long as we did!

Posted by: Uptohere | Apr 23, 2018 09:46

My comment is not about the man or his work ability but the timing. It seems like those "good" workers that keep leaving for better jobs do it in an amazingly short time, which leaves Wareham without a body to warm that chair. Or do those behind the curtain already know in advance and choose not to disclose the information?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Apr 23, 2018 10:25

He's just a guy who got a better job.  When is a "good time" to quit a job?  Who announces weeks in advance that they're looking for a new job?  That's private personal business that he does not have to disclose.


It is healthy and normal for any skilled, educated, professional to always be looking.  That's just part of the competitive workforce.  The days of employees having blind devotion are gone.  Even if it wasn't, have you ever been to Cohasset?  He'd be a fool to stay.


Many people are privileged to certain information.  I've had co-workers and my employees privately tell me that they are looking.  I've respected their request and said nothing to upper management.  Is that a crime?

Posted by: JollyRoger | Apr 23, 2018 18:51

Thank you, Steve Holmes.  I never met Mr. MacMillan -- just think the ignorant, factless character assassination of people who step up doesn't help the town.

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