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June 24, 2014



To: Maria Geryk, Superintendent of Schools

From: Katherine Appy, Chair of Amherst School Committee
Lawrence OBrien, Acting Chair of Regional School Committee
Darius Modestow, Chair of Pelham School Committee

Re: 2013-2014 School Committee Evaluation of the Superintendent

With gratitude and respect, the School Committees of Amherst, Pelham and the Region present you with our
evaluation of your performance as Superintendent during the school year 2013-2014.

First, a note about process. The School Committee is charged with three important mandates by the Educational
Reform Act of 1993--to create policy, vote a budget, and hire and evaluate the superintendent. The evaluation
process starts at the beginning of the school year. By regulation, the School Committee works with the
superintendent to choose standards ( as set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) by
which the committee will measure the superintendents work and progress this contract year. As a body, the
School Committee works together to identify, and communicate to the superintendent, the measures chosen from
the DESE rubric, by which we will evaluate her work. This final report reflects that process.

Twelve members of the three school committees participated in this evaluation. They include Katherine Appy,
Trevor Baptiste, Michael DeChiara, Kip Fonsh, Debbie Gould, Rick Hood, Emily Marriott, Darius Modestow,
Lawrence OBrien, Dan Robb, Amilcar Shabazz and Kathleen Traphagen. All twelve members completed the
evaluation form. The Central Office provided evaluators with more than 300 pages of documents, including your
self-evaluation, budget information, reports, and staff feedback. This memo provides a written summary of our
collective evaluations. This memo thereby serves as the official position of the School Committee.

Every effort has been made to compose a narrative that is representative of the committee as a whole. The goal is
to both evaluate your performance this year and to supply useful feedback and information that we hope will help
you lead the district toward our collective goals.

In general, the evaluations reflected an appreciation for the complexity of your job and the enormous amount of
time and effort you commit to it. You received a majority of proficient and exemplary marks from
respondents on the four major standards and the Overall Summative Performance. Many School Committee
members believe our district is performing at a high level and that you have been an important factor in that
success. In the areas of Student Learning Goals, District Improvement Goals and Professional Learning Goals, a
significant majority of the evaluators rated you as having made significant progress toward, or as having met
your goals for this evaluation. According to one evaluator, you did not meet any of your three goals for this
year.

The summary results of the evaluation are as follows:

Standard 1: Curriculum, instruction and Assessment
The education leader promotes the learning and growth of all students and the success of all staff by
cultivating a shared vision that makes powerful teaching and learning the central focus of schooling.

This standard was rated between proficient and exemplary by evaluators. Ten ratings from evaluators are
included in this standards final rating and score. However, two ratings could not be included because they were
not accompanied by the required comments explaining the rationale and evidence for the rating (DESE
Conducting the End-of-Cycle Summative Evaluation, Jan. 2012).
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Evaluators comments indicated a broad understanding that the process of implementing best instructional
practice in the pursuit of educational equity is a complex, multi-year endeavor. Committee members share your
overarching goal of ensuring that every student in our respective districts are taught by teachers who are
thoroughly trained and utilize best instructional practice. The committee also applauds your ongoing efforts to
develop rich and rigourous curricula in all subject areas that are aligned across and between grade levels as well
as with the current Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Your efforts to implement universal design in the
classroom and the ongoing implementation of a tiered instructional model were also noted as positive steps
toward the goal of making powerful teaching and learning the central focus of our schools. You have spent a
great deal of time and energy building a foundation that will support these future educational reforms. The
Committee appreciates the need for this foundational support in order that our schools are sustainable and
effective.

Some committee members believe you spent too little of your time focusing on teaching and learning (about 13
percent). We hope next school year you will create a schedule that allows you to devote more time to this critical
responsibility. Additionally, committee members are concerned that teachers are not given enough time to assess
and interpret data collected through various means in order that they might be able to use the information more
effectively. Finally, committee members heard from some of the districts teachers who felt their voices were not
being included on a regular basis in making pedagogical decisions. The committee wants to reinforce your belief
that successful change requires a buy-in from all stakeholders.

In summary, as superintendent you have spent a great deal of time and energy building a foundation and
implementing initiatives that will significantly alter the nature of teaching and learning in our districts. The
committee has come to appreciate the complexity of the job and the need to build foundational support in order
that the necessary changes to our system are sustainable and effective.

Standard ll Management and Operations

The educator promotes and ensures a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment, using resources to
implement appropriate curriculum, staffing, and scheduling.

This standard was rated between proficient and exemplary by evaluators. Ten ratings from evaluators are
included in this standards final rating and score. However, two ratings could not be included because they were
not accompanied by the required comments explaining the rationale and evidence for the rating (DESE
Conducting the End-of-Cycle Summative Evaluation, Jan. 2012. Additionally, one rating was based upon data
from a previous contract year, so could not be included as evidence in this current contract year.

Most committee members believe the budget process was thorough, responsible, and informative, and put in place
a sustainable, long-range strategic plan. The 2014-2015 budget reflects the values and vision of our school
communities, one that simultaneously accounts for the needs of students and the ongoing limitations of financial
resources. Noted as a particular strength was your ability to plan for complex systems, create goals, and
implement action steps to meet the needs and priorities our communities in the service of what is best for all
students.

One example of this commitment to community values is the addition of an integrated arts model in the
elementary schools next year. Money is also earmarked for ongoing supports for struggling students and new
curriculum material across schools and grade levels. For the first time, the Regional School district has moved
ahead to create a multi-year capital plan under your leadership. This is viewed by the School Committee as
another example of fiscal responsibility on the part of you and your staff.

The Committee believes you have put in place effective safety procedures for every building in the districts that
will ensure the well-being and safety of all students and staff. There are clear procedures for staff to enact in the
event of an emergency. You have also re-configured some building entrances to further ensure the safety of staff
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and students. Resources were allocated in next years budget to install cameras at the high school and on school
buses to further protect students and staff.

This was an especially challenging year around issues of school climate. The majority of School Committee
members believe you made significant efforts to address these challenges. There was feedback that you could be
more communicative, in areas where you are not constrained by legal parameters, and the hope is that you will do
this more quickly when incidents occur. Communication around new initiatives and community education is also
an area where the School Committee would like to see you put more time and attention. Additionally, the
committee continues to call for you to develop metrics by which progress in a multitude of areas can be measured.
Without this data, it is hard to ascertain where growth in the system is occurring and whether or not certain
programs and initiatives are efficacious. It is also felt that if you were more communicative with the community,
support for new initiatives would be easier to gain. The implementation of the nut ban is an example of slow and
limited communication with stakeholders.

Standard lll Family and Community Engagement

The education leader promotes the learning and growth of all students and the success of all staff through
effective partnerships with families, community organizations, and other stakeholders that support the
mission of the district and its schools.

This standard was rated between proficient and exemplary by evaluators. Eleven ratings are included in this
standards final rating and score. However, one ratings could not be included because it was not accompanied by
the required comments explaining the rationale and evidence for the rating (DESE Conducting the End-of-
Cycle Summative Evaluation, Jan. 2012). Additionally, one rating was based upon data from a previous contract
year, so could not be included as evidence in this current contract year.

While the committee believes that the districts faced some challenges outside your control this year, this standard
garnered you some of your highest marks. As a committee, we believe that you have spent a great deal of time,
effort and resources focused on issues of race, class, and diversity. While we recognize that there is no easy fix
for these longstanding and embedded issues, committee members noted your openness to listening and
attentiveness to school climate and safety as essential learning conditions.

The Family Center was broadly identified as a tremendous achievement both operationally and in pursuit of the
districts goals and vision for family engagement. One member described your advocacy for the Family Center as
bold and potentially transformative. The committee almost unanimously applauded the success of the Family
Center both in terms of the number of families it served (more than 200) as well as the strong message it sends
about our commitment to reaching all students and in particular, students and communities who have been
historically underserved. Your focus on family engagement highlights your belief that family involvement is an
essential part of childrens academic and social success.

Another highlight of your work has been your success in engaging community partners to become involved in our
public schools. We see collaboration and investment from a wide range of partners including higher ed, non-
profits, local experts, and families and students. This is all done in an effort to support the wide ranging
educational needs of our diverse student body.

Some committee members expressed concern that not all stakeholders had an equal voice or a chance to be
involved with the schools in meaningful ways. There is a particular concern that people of all races, ethnicities,
and economic classes be treated equally. A majority of the committee believes more needs to be done to improve
system wide cultural competency and inclusivity and hopes you will give more effort to this goal.
Communication came up again on this standard with some noting that your communication is not always regular
and two-way.


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Standard lV

The educational leader promotes the learning and growth for all students and the success of all staff by
nurturing and sustaining a district-wide culture of reflective practice, high expectations, and continuous
learning for staff.

This standard was rated proficient by evaluators. Ten ratings from evaluators are included in this standards
final rating and score. However, two ratings could not be included because they were not accompanied by the
required comments explaining the rationale and evidence for the rating (DESE Conducting the End-of-Cycle
Summative Evaluation, Jan. 2012).

This has been an area of particular challenge and success for you as superintendent this year. Most committee
members believe one of your great strengths has been to build support for programs and initiatives from a wide
variety of people and organizations. You have brought in national experts, a range of community members, and
members of our five college community to work together to strengthen our community culture and school climate
for all students and staff. You are more than willing to meet with community members, staff, and students. Your
strong personal communication skills were highlighted.

A number of evaluators commended your decision to bring in Calvin Terrell ( a national leader on issues of
cultural competence and equity) and believe that many of our students and staff benefitted from his workshops
and presentations. In addition, many members praised programs and initiatives you put in place and supported
around issues of school climate, including the Intergenerational Group, the national MSAN conference, the Equity
Advisory Group, and Warrior Week.

There continues to be tension around cultural proficiency in our schools. While it is clear that a multitude of
strategies are being employed to improve the level of cultural competence, evidence of growth in this area is hard
to measure. Again it is hoped that you will communicate more fully and more quickly about issues that concern
our school community. While understanding that there are legal limitations by which you have to abide
pertaining to student and staff confidentiality, committee members would like you to be more transparent with
information that you can share.

In Conclusion

Members of the School Committee are very pleased with your work over the past year, particularly your
continued emphasis on serving the needs of all students. You have recognized and implemented programs that
address the multiple needs of students so that they can be successful in school. Most particularly this year has
included the launch of the Family Center and its focus on family engagement, the building of a structural
foundation to support wide ranging changes in instruction, and curricular alignment in pursuit of best instructional
practice. You clearly understand our changing demographics and needs and are working to build a school system
to meet those challenges. You have thought carefully about how to best support our schools financially in a time
of economic downturn and have built budgets that are responsible, sustainable, and support comprehensive
programming. As a School Committee we thank you for your hard work on behalf of all of our students.