NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The superintendent of schools has met her goals and was marked proficient across the board for her first year on the job.
The School Committee on Tuesday night confirmed its first evaluation of Superintendent Barbara Malkas, who was hired in May 2016. The evaluation and discussion by the committee had taken place at its last meeting at the end of June; the final document with written comments was approved on Tuesday.
"It was actually a wonderful process and I think to do it as the committee of the whole was a good choice for us because everyone in the room got to learn this as the first time we went through it," Mayor Richard Alcombright, chairman of the School Committee, said. "We certainly got all of and more than what we bargained for when we brought Superintendent Malkas into the district. ... I personally couldn't be more pleased with her performance over the past year."
The mayor said Malkas had performed well in dealing with the complexities of the district in taking over from the retired James Montepare, particularly how she had brought together a new team of administrators and dealt with budget and personnel cuts while still putting new programming in place.
"I don't discount the fact that you have a great team, and I think that's what you'd say first, but the team always has to have a leader and you've done a wonderful job this first year," he said.
Malkas was assessed on professional practice, student learning and district improvement. All of her marks were proficient, meaning she had met a "rigorous expected level of performance" based on measured standards.
The evaluation pointed to her abilities in building a "cohesive administrative team," effective leadership skills, strategic use of resources and the highest ethical and professional behavior in both the school and community, including participating with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, the Drug Free School Partnership and the playing a leading role in an advisory board for the Berkshire County Education Task Force.
"Dr. Malkas has begun work with school leadership and the School Committee to engage all stakeholders in sharing a common vision for North Adams Public Schools," the evaluation reads.
Malkas was voted a 1.5 percent raise for year two of her three-year contract, which has a base salary of $135,000.
The vote was taken after a short executive session, after which the committee comprised of Alcombright, Heather Boulger, Tara Jacobs and John Hockridge also voted a 1.5 percent increase for year one of a three-year contract with Business Manager Nancy Ziter and a three-year custodial contract with 1.5 percent each year. All of the increases are accounted for in the budget.
Alcombright said the evaluation process gave the committee "a painful look at what our administrators go through doing the evaluation process in general and how overhwelming it is ... it's very, very comprehensive."
The development of the evaluation report was led earlier this summer by Michael Gilbert, a field director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
Gilbert said the state evaluation process had changed since 2012 and applies to all educators.
"The real crux of this is aligning goals throughout the system," he told the School Committee in June. "School committees have much more flexibility as the evaluators and all districts have to implement this."
The new evaluation process dispenses with numerical levels and instead uses gradings based on "unsatisfactory, needs improvement, proficient and exemplary" applied by using tools of goals and standards. Gilbert described "proficient" as being somewhat of an A letter grade and exemplary as A-plus-plus.
The so-called SMART goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, rigorous and realistic, timed and tracked; the standards are measured as instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture.
The evaluation rubric contains a number indicators, elements and descriptors that school officials can apply as needed to the goals and standards they set. The evaluation process also includes a self-assessment by the superintendent, a portfolio of evidence and committee discussion and explanation should the educator being evaluated rate less than proficient.
Malkas noted in June that the goals she had laid out last year based on data-driven outcomes after stepping into the position provided the School Committee with a way to measure how effective that work had been.
"I said this year is about initiation, next year it's about implementing and following years is about sustaining," she said in June.
She also encouraged the committee to keep annual evaluation close to when the teachers and principals are evaluated, using the same process, to ensure the goals she sets don't become separated.
Malkas on Tuesday thanked absent committee member Nicholas Fahey for summarizing the comments into one document, and Boulger for her aid in facilitating the evaluation.
"I will be using this feedback to develop my goals for year two and some of the people at the table will be prepared for doing this again come June," she said.
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