Lenox superintendent evaluation 'very positive'
LENOX — The annual job-performance report card for Schools Superintendent Timothy Lee shows a mix of proficient and exemplary grades in written evaluations by four members of the School Committee.
As detailed by committee Chairman Robert Vaughan at this week's meeting, the evaluation cites progress toward goals set by the superintendent earlier in the 2015-16 school year.
"Primarily, people felt those goals had been met," said Vaughan, though one committee member felt they had been exceeded while another believed the goals had been partially met. The School Committee evaluators were Vaughan, Molly Elliot, Neal Maxymillian and Robert Munch.
Lee's five goals included:
• "Student-specific interventions" when needed to achieve benchmark goals for grade-level performance;
• Enhanced transparency through establishment of a community website with direct links to state data on district performance;
• Modeling by adults of positive and respectful communication in every interaction;
• Aligning administrator goals with the budget calendar;
• Stipends, credits and recognition for teachers' professional development.
For performance on four leadership standards — instructional, management and operations, family and community engagement and professional culture — Lee was deemed proficient overall "and in a couple of instances, exemplary," Vaughan said.
Written comments were very positive, he added, though one evaluator noted that by focusing on the district's five-year strategic plan, "there was the hope that it hasn't diluted attention on academic performance."
Vaughan explained that the concern was not "based on anything observed, just a concern, particularly since the high school had gone from Level 1 to Level 2."
Last December, the state's annual ranking of school performance gave Morris Elementary School a Level 1 rating for the third straight year while Lenox Memorial Middle and High School was downgraded to Level 2, primarily because of a drop in middle school math MCAS scores.
As a result, the overall Lenox district also declined to Level 2. However, only 19 percent of school districts statewide achieved a Level 1 rank for 2015-16, while 62 percent were rated at Level 2.
"The state defines the district level as that of the lowest-performing school," Lee noted at the time.
Delving into the School Committee's views on Lee's instructional leadership, Vaughan described a proficient evaluation. Lee was commended for "commitment to data-based decision-making" while one evaluator urged more immediate attention to "low-performance teachers."
For management and operations, the ratings were proficient or exemplary, with special praise for "strong budget management." Lee was cited favorably for working closely with town leaders to present "a very responsible budget."
"It's clear Superintendent Lee considers the safety, health and emotional and social needs of students as of paramount consideration," one evaluator wrote.
Family and community engagement was split between two proficient and two exemplary ratings.
On professional culture, the consensus ranking was proficient.
"Generally speaking, it's a very, very positive evaluation," Vaughan said.
Lee responded that he was "very pleased, very flattered. I'm grateful to cross into the exemplary range in some areas as well because I know that proficiency is kind of a lofty place to be."
Also at the School Committee's initial meeting of the academic year, the district's Business Administrator Hank Maiman reported that $105,000 in savings from the 2015-16 operating budget of $10.5 million had been returned to the town.
He cited "tremendous savings" of nearly $75,000 in utility costs during the school year, specifically for lower purchase prices for natural gas and the unusually mild winter, as well as HVAC equipment upgrades at Morris Elementary School achieved through grant funding from the state, Berkshire Gas and National Grid.
"I thank them all," Maiman said, "because it's not only good for the environment and good for their business but it's great for our schools. It means we have additional funds we can reallocate to other purposes."
The district saved $17,000 in expenses for vocational transportation to Pittsfield high schools, thanks to a collaborative arrangement with the Lee and Richmond schools. Unneeded cafeteria subsidies yielded $9,000 in savings.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.
Superintendent evaluations ...
The following comments were made by Lenox School Committee members on the overall performance of Superintendent Timothy Lee:
• "Tim is an exemplary superintendent. He has made demonstrable progress on all goals. Because I feel strongly about Tim and his strengths, I felt comfortable giving him a proficient score in the area of instructional leadership despite my feeling that some areas need improvement. Instructional leadership is an area of concern, given the drop in student performance and the downgrading of LMMHS to Level 2."
• "I am hopeful that Tim's superior efforts in the areas of communication, budgeting and the strategic plan have not diluted his attention to academic performance. I am confident in Tim's innate skills and hope he will increase his attention to this area."
• "I value the time, thought and work that Tim puts in as superintendent. He has a strong presence in our district and I think that has a positive effect on all aspects of the Lenox Public Schools. He is open to feedback and thoughtful in his responses."
• "In working with Tim as chairman, I have found that he is aware of every facet of the school operations, visits both schools frequently, and often anticipates issues or concerns that may need further exploration. He has begun in earnest the various goals of the strategic plan, has accomplished several of the 2015-16 goals (new website, increased recognition of teacher and school accomplishments). Tim has continually pushed for transparency in all school endeavors and has led a thoughtful discussion of the school choice dilemmas facing us in the near future."