By Melissa Fales
WARE – The School Committee presented Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach’s evaluation at the March 28 meeting. Committee members rated Beach on a scale of one to four, based on their expectations in six areas of responsibility. On this scale, a one is considered “exceptional,” a two, “satisfactory,” a three, “needs improvement” and a four, “unsatisfactory.” “An overall review rating average of 1.66 shows that the committee is pleased with the work Dr. Beach has done,” wrote Committee Chair Christopher Desjardins.
In the area of the superintendent’s relationship with the committee, Beach received scores of 1.8 for her ability to interpret, support and execute the committee’s policies and for making appropriate recommendations to the committee. She earned scores of 1.6 for her working relationship with committee members, for supporting the committee’s values and budget priorities and for assisting the committee with creating policies and programs that are in accordance with the Massachusetts Education Reform Act as well as school and district improvement plans. Committee member Brian Winslow commented on progress he’s seen. “Over the past year improvement has been made in the area of information sharing, therefore enhancing meeting quality,” he wrote. Committee member Aaron Sawabi also commented on Beach’s working relationship with the committee, calling it “notably improved.”
Regarding community relations, Beach earned scores of 1.8 for gaining the respect and support of the community by attending school and community events and for working effectively with and making herself accessible to families and students. The committee members gave Beach ratings of 1.6 for working effectively with town and state public officials, for her relationship with the news media and for promoting Ware Public Schools. “I feel community relations is one of Dr. Beach’s strongest qualities,” wrote Desjardins. “…She often visits the senior center, brings cookies to the election workers during town elections, attends town meetings, etc., all of which help to promote the Ware schools.”
Beach earned scores ranging from 2 to 1.2 in the area of personnel management. She received ratings of 2 for having job descriptions for every position to date and well-defined and for evaluating the administrative staff against state standards and district goals. Beach received a 1.8 for the way she oversees the selection process for staff. She earned ratings of 1.6 for insuring that staff members participate in professional growth programs, for appropriately delegating authority to staff members, for administering collective bargaining agreements efficiently and handling grievances effectively and for demonstrating and promoting an atmosphere of respect. Beach received a score of 1.2 for the way she handles contract negotiations and advises the committee on contract matters. Desjardins wrote “…She has built a strong administrative team that she obviously trusts a great deal, and relies on them for their opinions. I like to see this in a superintendent.”
In the area of educational and professional leadership, Beach earned ratings of 1.6 for understanding and keeping informed on the curriculum, holding others accountable for high professional standards, being innovative and creative in developing and implementing new programs, and keeping informed of school needs by regular visits and meetings with staff and parent groups. She received a rating of 1.4 for demonstrating that the schools are operated for the benefit of children. Winslow said Beach consistently proves “that the children of Ware are the number one priority in the school system,” and complimented Beach on “her creative approaches” to keeping budget cuts as far away from the students as possible.
In the area of business and finance, Beach received a 1.2 for her efforts to seek ways to save money and stretch the district’s budget. She received a 1.6 for developing a budget that reflects the district’s financial needs and determining that funds are spent wisely. Beach got a score of 1.8 for acting within the legal requirements set by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act. “Dr. Beach has done a great job with a limited budget,” wrote Desjardins. “She has shown some great thinking outside of the box to stretch the dollars further.” Winslow wrote that he appreciated Beach’s attention to detail regarding the budget. “Every attempt is made to justify every cut as well as expenditure,” he wrote.
Beach was also evaluated on her professional qualities. She received a rating of 2 for exercising sound judgment and the democratic process when arriving at decisions and for being articulate when interacting with the committee, staff, parents, students and the public. She earned a 1.8 for her ability to work well with individuals and groups, for completing tasks in a timely manner and her own personal efforts for professional development. Beach received a 1.2 for standing by her principles and convictions.
Sawabi suggested Beach might try to follow up on questions posed by or tasks assigned by committee members more efficiently, suggesting she might choose to delegate them to her staff in order to have them completed in a timely manner. Sawabi also touched on the important role Beach will play in resolving the issues regarding the town’s past failure to fund the district at the minimum net school spending amount. “Dr. Beach demonstrates an ability to work well with individuals and groups,” said Sawabi. “This will become increasingly relevant in light of the budgetary issues facing the school and the town as a whole.” Sawabi said Beach will need to continue to work with town and state officials on the issue and warned that she “will face potentially new types of problems to solve in the process.” He called for timely responses to any issues that may come up. “Dr. Beach should prepare her organization and management team accordingly,” he wrote.
Beach thanked the committee members for their feedback.