WVN Supplement: Superintendent evaluation
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Below is the final version of the School Committee's evaluation of school Superintendent Gary Burton referred to in WVN Newsletter #261.
The purpose of the evaluation is to assist the Superintendent in reviewing his/her effectiveness in carrying out the duties of the position as well as meeting the goals which the Committee and Superintendent have mutually established. The evaluation
should be a positive, constructive process which maintains mutual respect and trust for all involved, working toward the common goal of improving education in the Wayland Public Schools.
The evaluation shall consist of:
SECTION I is a narrative assessment from the School Committee of the extent to which each of the current year's goals has been achieved.
SECTION II is a series of questions to evaluate the Superintendent's major areas of responsibilities completed by the School Committee.
SELF ASSESSMENT is a narrative self assessment by the Superintendent regarding the goal areas and the major areas of responsibilities.
The Superintendent will submit to the School Committee a list of goals for the coming school year. The School Committee will approve these goals within the next two regularly scheduled School Committee meetings but no later than June 30th.
No later than January 31st of each fiscal year, the Superintendent will have an informal discussion with the School Committee regarding progress towards the mutual goals.
The formal evaluation shall be finalized no later than June 30th of the fiscal year. The narrative and series of questions (sections 1 and 2 above) will be made available to each committee member no later than May 1st. The forms completed by each
member and Self Assessment will be returned to the School Committee Chair by May 15th. These individual evaluations, combined with the information from step 3 above, will be compiled by the School Committee Chair into a working evaluation.
The School Committee Chair will then compile a draft evaluation and provide an opportunity for the School Committee to discuss the draft evaluation in a regularly scheduled open meeting. The final evaluation will be released to the public at a
meeting of the School Committee.
The School Committee recognizes that this year was unique given the override and the decision to reconfigure the elementary schools, one year earlier than originally anticipated. The Committee understands that Dr. Burton needed to shift his
priorities as a result of these factors and substantially more work was generated for him and his administrators. Once the decision was made by the School Committee to reconfigure the elementary schools, Dr. Burton worked diligently to ensure a
1. ANNUAL GOALS: How well has the Superintendent met the district's annual goals?
Ensure delivery of our curriculum and the quality of instruction, as measured in a variety of ways (standardized test scores, college acceptance rates, teacher evaluations, staff retention rates, etc.), remains strong and among the best in the state. Also,
encourage the instructional staff to create unusual learning opportunities for students of all ability levels. Student, staff and parental feedback on school programs and activities will be sought as one means of measuring this goal.
The delivery of curriculum and quality of instruction remains strong, overall, as measured by certain external measures, such as MCAS scores and college acceptance rates. The School Committee looks forward to the rolling out of the District Report
Card to capture these and other measures on an annual basis.
The District's delivery of curriculum, as led by Dr. Burton, benefits from continual improvement. Recent examples of improvement include the elementary reading and math programs. Looking forward, attention will be given to improving technology
and the PE/health and wellness program throughout the district. The School Committee would like Dr. Burton to continue encouraging the instructional staff to develop more learning opportunities and innovative programming for students of all ability
levels in the District. Certain members cited, in particular, developing more programs for gifted and talented students and continuing the work related to closing the achievement gap.
The School Committee would like Dr. Burton to continue the practice of bringing curriculum leaders to School Committee meetings to present information regarding curriculum, programs and practices occurring within the District. The Committee
recognizes that this initiative was deferred this year given the time spent on the elementary school reconfiguration.
Continue to recruit, hire, and train instructors and support staff of the highest quality available. Professional development will remain a district priority with an emphasis on instructional skills, as well as the initiatives cited above. Provide reports at
year's end to demonstrate success with this goal. Report, when appropriate, the monitoring of the success of four new administrators, as well as the replacement of two retiring administrators.
With two planned retirements, one unexpected move out of state and one move to a new position, Dr. Burton continued to focus on hiring high quality administrators. The School Committee believes this area is a particular strength of his. Dr. Burton
recommended that the SPED director's position be hired from within based on the candidate's extensive experience and the quality of her work, while noting the limited pool of qualified applicants in the specialized area of Special Education. The
School Committee agreed with Dr. Burton's recommendation after discussing concerns about an appropriate balance between internal and external hires. Following the unexpected resignation late in the year of the Middle School Principal, Dr. Burton
prudently recommended that the position be filled in the interim by the highly qualified vice-principal, to allow for ample time to conduct a full search next year. He also successfully completed a search for the district's technology director position
over the summer, consulting with the Technology Task Force for guidance in terms of the needs of this position based on information gathered in the recent technology audit. Last, Dr. Burton hired the elementary Language Arts curriculum specialist
and the Fine Arts Director with highly qualified candidates from within the district.
The School Committee urges Dr. Burton to continue to consider the balance between external and internal hires, recognizing the benefits and drawbacks of each strategy. In the end, the School Committee believes each position should be evaluated
individually, first defining the needs of the position, then finding the best candidate available who meets these needs.
Based on our own interactions and reports from Dr. Burton, the newly hired administrators, which include the Assistant Superintendent, the High School Principal and the Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow Principals, appear to be performing well. As
discussed at prior School Committee meetings, the Committee encourages Dr. Burton to provide additional training for administrators, particularly new ones, on the rules and regulations of the Campaign Finance Laws.
Regarding recruiting, hiring and training of instructors and support staff, the School Committee has less visibility. However, the turnover rate does not indicate any particular issues of concern. The Committee recognizes that professional
development remains a high priority for Dr. Burton and continues to demand attention. The Committee would like to see particular emphasis placed in the area of technology, finding ways to encourage teachers and staff to participate in this kind of
training. As we noted last year, we encourage Dr. Burton and other administrators to maintain as a top priority, a high quality, systematic and
reproducible process of recruiting, training and evaluating teachers and staff. More specific information regarding these practices and efforts would be helpful and perhaps could be included in the District Report Card to track over time.
Continue to seek additional feedback and suggestions from community residents regarding desirable school improvements, especially those that address an expansive range of student needs. Incorporate into the FY09 budget, as warranted, the
recommendations specific to the initiatives mentioned above.
One of Dr. Burton's other strengths is his open door policy and accessibility to the community. He devotes a considerable amount of time listening to input from the community at meetings, forums and hearings, as well as from his administrators, the
PTOs and School Councils. With this information, certain key initiatives were evaluated during FY08, such as closing the achievement gap, evaluating the technology capabilities of the district, placing greater emphasis on the health/ wellness/PE
program, introducing a Chinese program, greening of our schools and offering a full day kindergarten program. These initiatives are in varying stages of development, as reflected in their end of year reports, but will be discussed at the
Administrative Council's retreat in August to determine next steps. Certain School Committee members encourage Dr. Burton to include funding for these initiatives, if appropriate, in FY10's budget.
Keep the district's financial needs a priority and work with the School Committee and others to ensure that the schools' budgetary needs are well articulated to the general community prior to the Annual Town Meeting.
Prudent fiscal management is a skill that Dr. Burton performs very well. Each year, working with his administrators, he recommends a budget that balances the needs of the district with the fiscal constraints facing the town. Working with the School
Committee to determine a final budget proposal, Dr. Burton effectively communicates that budget to the community via meetings, forums, hearings and other channels. In addition to developing and communicating a budget that meets the needs of
the district, he also lives within such budget year in and year out. Given the numerous external factors beyond his control, such as federal and state mandates, the Committee recognizes how difficult this is.
ADDITIONAL PERSONAL GOALS
The Committee recognizes that Dr. Burton is very visible in the schools and is well known by students and staff. His presence in the schools is valued. Dr. Burton's work on the Long-Range Strategic Plan is discussed later in the evaluation under
Section II, 1c.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SCHOOL COMMITTEE:
How effective is the Superintendent in keeping the School Committee informed about the programs, practices, and problems of the schools?
Dr. Burton is very effective at keeping the School Committee informed about the successes and problems of the schools as they arise. In particular this year, Dr. Burton kept the School Committee well informed regarding the budget and the
elementary school reconfiguration.
As mentioned earlier, the School Committee would like to hear updates from curriculum leaders as a way to inform the Committee in this area. It was also suggested that it could be useful to hear from building principals about the goals for their
How effective is the Superintendent in making recommendations to the School Committee relative to policy and to other matters requiring School Committee action, supported by data and information as necessary to make informed decisions?
Dr. Burton continues to be effective in making recommendations to the School Committee relative to policy and other matters requiring School Committee action. Over the years, he has provided more data and information to help the Committee make
informed decisions. Furthermore, when additional information is needed after discussions with the School Committee, he has compiled it promptly.
Does the Superintendent work well with the School Committee to develop a vision, long-range plan and system-wide goals for the district?
The School Committee and the Administration are approximately two years into a process of developing a long range plan for the district. It was one of Dr. Burton's personal goals this year to work on the long-range strategic plan. The School
Committee recognizes that with the override and the decision to reconfigure the elementary schools, Dr. Burton's priorities needed to shift. However, it was suggested that if this process had continued in the Fall with meetings of the Strategic
Planning Team, this work could have continued without the direct involvement of Dr. Burton, as was done with certain of the other administrative initiatives. It is the School Committee's expectations that there will be certain key deliverables related to
the Long-Range Strategic Plan early in the fall, such as the District Report Card.
Each year, Dr. Burton continues to provide systemwide goals. Some School Committee members think that it would be helpful if Dr. Burton developed more specific, measurable goals. The School Committee understands that the goals Dr. Burton has
identified in the past are necessary components for maintaining a high quality educational program. However, they tend to be broad and are already covered in other areas of this evaluation. So it was suggested, in future years, Dr. Burton develop
and adopt goals that target a specific objective which could be either short-term or long-term in nature
UTILIZATION OF RESOURCES:
How effective is the Superintendent in managing the district's resources of staff, time, money, materials, equipment, space, and available special services?
Managing the district's resources is one of Dr. Burton's greatest strengths. He is very effective at allocating funds that support the staff, space, materials, equipment, special services etc. required to meet the students' needs while operating within
the constraints of Proposition 2 ½. He develops such a budget and lives within that budget. The School Committee believes this is a very important skill given the current financial situation facing the town. It was suggested that Dr. Burton continue to
think creatively to reallocate resources in order to support new priorities. For example, as has been discussed in prior School Committee meetings, the Committee would like Dr. Burton to evaluate whether the District could reallocate funds that are
currently used for the PE program at the High School to support a new health and wellness program.
How well does the Superintendent determine short and long-range building needs and oversee implementation of such projects?
Every year, Dr. Burton works with the Schools' Facilities Manager and now with the Town's Facilities Manager to develop a short and long-range capital plan to address the immediate and future building needs of the District. He advocates for such
capital needs during each budget season and works with the Business Administrator to oversee the implementation of such projects. In particular, the School Committee is pleased with the progress of the Happy Hollow window replacement project as
the project will be completed under budget. In addition, Dr. Burton continues to place a high priority on the High School Building Project, by working closely with the High School Building Committee and the State, so that Wayland is in a position to
receive state funding and to move the project forward as quickly as possible.
LEADERSHIP: How effective is the Superintendent in getting people to accomplish desirable objectives, utilize effective methods, and accept School Committee direction?
Dr. Burton meets regularly with his Administrative Council and they work as a team. He strikes a balance between protecting the Administrators' valuable time and responding to the School Committee's requests and, more recently, requests from the
community. The Administrators are talented individuals and work extremely hard to support Wayland's schools. The School Committee does not have direct knowledge of his relationship with staff throughout the district.
With regard to accepting School Committee direction, as mentioned last year, when the Committee and Dr. Burton disagree after discussing a matter, Dr. Burton sometimes chooses to reiterate his position. However, he always accepts the direction of
the School Committee and acts upon it. A key example in this area was Dr. Burton's response to the Committee's direction to reconfigure the elementary schools a year earlier than he recommended. Upon the Committee's decision, Dr. Burton has
worked diligently and professionally with his administrators to transition to a 2 ½ elementary school model.
DEVELOPMENT OF OTHERS: How successful is the Superintendent in hiring, retaining and developing the potential of staff members (e.g. professional development, morale, evaluation)?
Please refer to the comments regarding Goal 2 found on page 3. It was suggested that some data be provided in the areas of retention, professional development activities and the evaluation process in order to help the School Committee better
evaluate these areas.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
Does the Superintendent demonstrate the capacity and desire to broaden personal perspectives and become more valuable to the school system?
Dr. Burton understands the need to broaden his personal perspective as it will benefit the entire school system. For example, Dr. Burton continues to participate in Project Blueprint, which broadens his thinking regarding educational issues faced by a
group of high performing school districts throughout the country. He also meets with his peers individually and through the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and attends conferences. In addition, Dr. Burton continued the work
initiated with Dr. Irwin Blumer to lead the Administrative Council in the development of a set of system-wide "core values." The School Committee would like to encourage Dr. Burton to continue to explore opportunities for innovation and change and
to find creative ways to implement them if they have merit.
Is the Superintendent's depth and breadth of practical, technical, and academic knowledge sufficient for effective handling of the problems of the job?
Through his experience as Superintendent, Dr. Burton has acquired extensive practical, technical, and academic knowledge to handle the responsibilities of the job. Addressing the day to day issues faced by the school system is one of his strengths.
He seeks outside advice and counsel when needed and delegates responsibility to those with expertise when appropriate.
Does the Superintendent have the ability to establish a clear order of priorities and divide attention and time appropriately?
The School Committee does not have the benefit of observing Dr. Burton's day to day activities. However, it appears that Dr. Burton works very efficiently. He is able to handle the daily responsibilities associated with managing a high quality school
district. In particular, the School Committee was impressed with how he was able to address the daily issues that required his time and attention while managing the logistical details associated with reconfiguring the elementary schools.
Does the Superintendent take appropriate steps to assure the safety and welfare of students and employees in the schools and at school sponsored activities?
The School Committee believes Dr. Burton takes appropriate steps to assure the safety and welfare of students and employees in the schools. By working with the Facilities Manager, the Building Principals, the Central Office Administrators (most
notably the Director of Student
Services) and the public safety officials, Dr. Burton recognizes the safety and welfare of the students and employees as one of his top priorities. For example, Dr. Burton initiated an emergency lock down policy and oversaw the implementation of
related drills at the various building levels. As discussed at prior School Committee meetings and identified as one of the Administrators' initiatives, the enhancement of the health and wellness program will be a key area of focus in the near term.
How well does the Superintendent understand the strengths and problems of the local and school community?
Dr. Burton understands the strengths and problems of the local and school communities. He works diligently to understand these needs by attending after school activities, working with his Administrative Council and key Town personnel, conducting
monthly meetings with the PTO presidents, and participating in forums and public hearings. The School Committee is very appreciative of the time that Dr. Burton dedicates to his job.
How effectively does the Superintendent communicate with the community and other boards and departments of town government?
One of Dr. Burton's strengths continues to be the open door policy he follows with the various constituencies throughout the town, including school aged family members, peer town officials, members of other Town Boards, the press, and community
members. He is accessible to all. While there may not always be agreement regarding issues raised, Dr. Burton does devote a considerable amount of time to this area and is always respectful to all parties involved. In particular, Dr. Burton has been
very responsive to the community throughout the elementary reconfiguration process. He has answered questions, addressed concerns, and been responsive to individual needs of families (e.g. granting requests for transfers between elementary
schools when feasible).
As a result of this regular contact, Dr. Burton understands the different priorities that face the various stakeholders and appreciates the need to work collaboratively while advocating for the needs of the schools. The School Committee is confident
that this relationship will continue in the future.
The School Committee greatly appreciates all of the time and effort the Administrators, led by Dr. Burton, have devoted to their work during this very challenging year. Given the School Committee's decision to reconfigure the elementary schools this
year one year earlier than originally anticipated, Dr. Burton had to refocus his priorities and spend the vast majority of his long days on this effort. The School Committee appreciates the professionalism, dedication and attention to details that have
gone into making this transition as smooth as possible.
The Wayland School Committee
Barb Fletcher, Outgoing Chair
Louis Jurist, Incoming Chair
Wayland Public Schools