School superintendent scores high marks
Superintendent of public schools James Weiss received high marks on what equates to his report card - an annual evaluation recently completed by members of the All-Island School Committee (AISC) and the superintendent's cabinet.
Discussion about Mr. Weiss's evaluation and his proposed goals for the 2009-2010 school year topped the agenda at last week's AISC meeting at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). The school committee also read and discussed a proposed new student travel policy for the first time.
The superintendent's evaluation questionaire was sent to the 14 school committee members of Martha's Vineyard's 5 school districts, and to the 11 members of the superintendent's cabinet, which includes school principals and central office administrators.
Respondents ranked Mr. Weiss in terms of "fails to meet," "sometimes meets," "usually meets," "always meets," "exceeds" or "no basis" in 39 job-related categories.
According to AISC chairman Dan Cabot's summary of the responses, 83 percent of the school committee members and 94 percent of the cabinet indicated Mr. Weiss usually meets, always meets, or exceeded their expectations. One school committee member did not respond in time to be included in the summary results.
In their comments, school committee members praised Mr. Weiss for shepherding school budgets through town meetings in difficult economic times, and starting two new programs, a grade 8 honors program and the Bridge Program, which serves students Island-wide with multiply involved disabilities.
They also commended him for the Professional Growth System for teacher evaluations that he put into place, the hiring of a new management team, and the search for a new Chilmark head of school. Other favorable comments noted Mr. Weiss's attention to detail and continued good communication with the school committees and the community.
Cabinet members' responses also were overwhelming positive, according to Mr. Cabot's summary. They commended Mr. Weiss's vision, leadership, communication skills, accessibility, hard work, and attendance at events in all schools.
Budget presentations were a notable area of improvement for Mr. Weiss, according to school committee members' responses. Last year, four school committee members checked that he failed or only sometimes provided clear budget documents, while this year, 8 out of 13 indicated he exceeded their expectations.
Areas of concern mentioned by school committee members in this evaluation and previous ones included recruiting teachers, communicating with the media, effecting more collaboration among school districts, and funding for unfunded mandates and liabilities.