WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Committee gave first-year Superintendent Kimberley Grady passing marks on her first formal evaluation while recognizing that the evaluation process itself was incomplete given Mount Greylock's transition to a fully regionalized PreK-12 district.
Four of the six committee members who completed the evaluation process gave Grady an overall mark of proficient in the evaluation rubric established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for administrators across the commonwealth. Two gave her an overall score of "needs improvement," though at least one commented in the written evaluation that she is at the higher end of the "needs improvement" range.
And the "needs improvement" classification itself was not to be unexpected for someone who was hired as a full-time superintendent after a spring 2018 vote of the committee.
DESE's guidance to school committees is that, "for first- and second-year superintendents, there will most likely be 'needs improvement,' " acting Chairwoman Regina DiLego said.
DiLego also explained that the review process utilized by the committee missed some elements that will be included going forward.
For example, the School Committee is supposed to approve goals for the academic year in the summer prior, and those goals are supposed to align with the district's strategic plan and district improvement plan, neither of which were in place last summer. The superintendent also is supposed to receive a mid-cycle review, which did not happen for 2018-19.
But Grady provided the committee members with all the information she could on which to base the end-of-year evaluation, DiLego and committee member Dan Caplinger agreed.
"I'd like to thank you because you put together this voluminous packet of evidence," Caplinger said. "And you were willing to sit with each of us and go through it and answer any questions we had. I appreciate the time you took doing it.
"There were many comments about the process [of review] and how the process could be improved, and I look forward to doing my part to make sure those improvements take place."
Grady asked the panel to consider her performance on three specific goals: district improvement, professional practice and student learning.
The first goal concerned vertical and horizontal integration of the district, particularly as the two elementary schools and middle-high school were brought into a single region. Four committee members said she had met the standard and two indicated that significant progress had been made.
The "professional practice" related to family engagement and aligning the district with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Grady was graded as having met that goal by three committee members and as having made significant progress by the other three.
On "student learning," which included using DESE's new Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System accountability data to identify and address students not meeting targets, four committee members said she met the goal, another two indicated significant progress had been made.
Caplinger, who was responsible for compiling the results from all six committee members (a seventh member, Joe Bergeron, recently submitted his letter of resignation to the panel). Asked to provide some examples of the voluminous comments from the committee, Caplinger pulled out a couple of examples.
One of the comments cited the school building project, the move to regionalize and the alignment of union contracts and the transition from acting superintendent to full-time superintendent as three significant challenges on their own.
"[Grady]has successfully managed all three at the same time while maintaining our District [sic] focus on student growth, emotional health and overall learning — no small task for anyone," one committee member wrote.
"In general, I took the tone of the evaluations as positive," Caplinger said in a three-hour meeting filmed by the district and available on YouTube. "I think there is a general recognition that with all the transformation the district has gone through, it has faced unparalleled challenges, and Superintendent Grady has done an excellent job of meeting up to those challenges.
"I think some committee members have disagreements about areas in which Superintendent Grady needs improvement versus areas in which she is proficient, but everyone recognizes the challenges she has faced and applauds her for the efforts she has made to overcome them."
Next year, the committee hopes to, among other things, have seven members performing the next evaluation for the superintendent.
That means replacing Bergeron, who earlier in the spring took a leave of absence from the committee and announced his departure earlier this month.
On Thursday, DiLego read his letter of resignation into the record and, along with other committee members, expressed her thanks to Bergeron for his role in helping the district fully regionalize while completing the school building project at the middle-high school.
DiLego said that the School Committee will be joined by the select boards from both member towns, Lanesborough and Williamstown, for a special joint meeting on June 24 to name a replacement for Bergeron.
Although there is no deadline for applicants specified in the regional agreement, the committee members agreed that interested applicants should notify the district at least a week in advance and provide any supporting documentation — i.e., a letter of interest and/or resume — so that the 14 voting members at the June 24 meeting can consider such material before interviewing prospective candidates and voting.
The district has 30 days from the date of Bergeron's letter to identify a replacement, per the regional agreement.
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