Friday, February 2, 2007
CSC members comment on Superintendent's contract renewal
Recently, Carlisle School Committee members were individually approached and asked to comment on their votes regarding Superintendent Marie Doyle's contract renewal. Now, although their votes were split on that issue, members say they have a good working relationship with each other and Doyle, who has been Superintendent since 2004.
Back on December 20, after long discussions in three executive sessions, CSC Chair Nicole Burkel announced that the committee approved the renewal of Doyle's contract in two separate 3-2 votes. The votes, the first to renew Doyle's contract and the second to renew the contract for three years, were split 3-2 with committee members Burkel, Christie Barbee and Wendell Sykes voting "yes" on both decisions, while "no" votes were cast by committee members Chad Koski and Michael Fitzgerald.
Give the new team more time
Asked about her position, Barbee said she voted for the renewal of Doyle's contact because, "I believe she has done a good job in providing for our kids in terms of curriculum, staffing, safety and learning environment."
Sykes said his vote to renew Doyle's contract was to allow her to focus on important work, on benchmarks and the school facility. "Based on my previous experience on the School Council and several visits to the school, I felt that the physical and social conditions at the Carlisle Schools needed significant improvement to meet the best interests of the students and that the Superintendent had the capability to manage such change," he explained. He said Doyle's goals were more difficult to achieve this year due to the focus on other issues that were "associated with the needs of the faculty, not the students." He felt the result of these issues was to "almost completely stop movement towards resolution of the need for improvement in physical and social conditions in the Carlisle Schools, slow progress towards establishment of benchmarks and weaken town support for the Carlisle Schools."
Koski said he voted no because he wanted to allow the contract to automatically be renewed for just one year. (If no action had been taken on Doyle's contract, it would have automatically renewed for one year, under the old contract stipulations.) "Michael [Fitzgerald] and I wanted another year to make a decision," he said. He noted there are three new administrators, Principals Patrice Hurley and Paul Graseck and Director of Student Services Karen Slack, and he felt there should be more time to observe the team. "I had no desire to remove Marie from the position," he said, but he was concerned the "split votes had the potential to send a bad message." He added that the new administration team is working out very well.
On the length of the contract
Koski and Fitzgerald also voted no on the length of Doyle's contract. Again Koski explained, he preferred to have a one-year renewal. Fitzgerald said he has seen "some improvement" over the year in Doyle's performance. "I was more than willing to give it one more year. But given that there were concerns raised" at the beginning of the school year, he explained, he preferred to have her contract renewed for just one year.
Sykes, who voted for the three-year contract, explained, "During the discussion, prior to voting, a minority of the committee wished to offer a shorter term. Though I did not agree, I understand the reasons for their position and believe that their actions were made in good faith."
Barbee, who voted yes on a three-year contract, said other terms were considered, but "I preferred the three years as a means to ensure stability and retention."
Burkel, who voted yes on the renewal and the three-year length of contract, explained, "Different lengths were discussed but the motion was made and approved for a three-year contract."
Sykes said the evaluation process worked well. "I feel that the School Committee as a group has conducted a thorough and professional evaluation of the performance of the Superintendent, relative to jointly preestablished educational and management goals. This evaluation was conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open dialogue, independently and jointly with the Superintendent."
CSC working relationship
Asked if the split votes had affected their ability to work together, Barbee responded, "We seem to be getting along just fine." Koski and Burkel both agreed. "The meetings are fine," replied Koski, who said he is perfectly willing to work with Marie.
In his response, Fitzgerald commented, "I haven't noticed any change. Our working relationship hasn't changed."
"The board continues to work harmoniously together as a team to make decisions that are in the best interest of students. I have seen no animosity," Burkel said.
When will the new contract be ready?
There have not been any contract discussions since the votes were taken, just before the winter vacation. Burkel explained, "There have been no other sessions regarding contract. We've had our hands full with the budget."
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