The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 12, 2009

Carlisle School Committee gives Doyle praise and suggestions

Carlisle School Committee (CSC) Vice Chair Wendell Sykes presented a public summary of Superintendent Marie Doyle’s performance review at the June 3 meeting. The remarks included strong praise for many aspects of her job performance, including budget management and her relationship with students and the School Committee. The review also offered two suggestions: one, to take a stronger leadership role and a more supportive attitude while the CSC considers the proposal to form a superintendency union and, second, to improve the process of staff and teacher evaluations. No vote was taken at the meeting on the evaluation, which is conducted annually by the School Committee.

Doyle: “not asking for a raise”

Doyle was hired as superintendent in 2004 and is concluding the second year in a three-year contract. Her current base salary is $143,160. She received a 3.9% raise in 2008. There was no discussion of her salary during the meeting and CSC Chair Chad Koski later said, “no decision has been made regarding any changes to the salary.” When contacted by email, Doyle said, “Given the fiscal realities, I am not asking for a raise in order to help the town.”

The generally positive performance review represented a new evaluation process, which was developed by committee members Dale Ryder and Bill Fink. Ryder explained by phone that they “formalized it, and tightened” the new evaluation process and made sure that Doyle received feedback privately. In the fall Ryder and Fink mentioned three areas of primary focus – managing the school budget process, overseeing the school building process and student assessment. The final evaluation included eight areas of performance:

Relationship with students praised. Doyle’s review praised her relationship with students. “It is clear that she keeps students foremost in her decision-making with the goal of doing what is in the best interest of the students. She clearly enjoys being around students and they in turn enjoy her attention.” The committee reported that Doyle attends “all major school functions” and takes pride in students’ accomplishments. “Marie can truly be called the students’ superintendent.”

Relationship with School Committee. Doyle has “a very good working relationship with the School Committee,” the evaluation stated. “She regularly communicates with individual members to keep everyone informed and has a very welcoming open-door policy for school committee members.”

The committee expressed concern about how Doyle dealt with the possible Superintendency Union and said meetings on the subject were “stressful and tense.” The CSC suggested Doyle take a stronger and more visible leadership role in dealing with staff concerns regarding the union. They encouraged Doyle to “present a professional demeanor and a positive and supportive attitude to the public even in the face of her own personal concerns about an issue.” If the CSC decides to create a superintendency union with the Concord School District, it is expected that several Carlisle School administrators’ positions will be eliminated, including Doyle’s.

The committee had high praise for Doyle’s educational leadership skills. “She keeps abreast of trends in education at all levels, while staying informed of pending legislation affecting education. She has done an excellent job of focusing on the math curriculum and as a result,Carlisle’s MCAS math scores have steadily improved during her tenure.”

General management and budget. “Marie does an excellent job of managing the day-to-day operations of the school,” noted the School Committee. “She has established goals and objectives for the school system and the performance of the system is measured against those goals throughout the year. She has worked to develop educational specifications for the school building project that reconciled educational needs with the cost constraints imposed by town finances.”

In a year when budgets are tight, the committee recognized Doyle’s strict cost controls. “Marie has efficiently managed the operational budget of the school,” the report said. “She demonstrated her ability to reprioritize the budget mid-year when the town asked all departments to trim their budgets due to expected cuts in state aid.” They also commended Doyle for moving from a one-year to a three-year budget, which will “assist her in planning for changes in revenue and student enrollment.”

Personnel management and communications. The committee expressed concern that the process of staff and teacher evaluations “does not occur frequently enough and is not as effective as it might be.” Staff and teachers are evaluated every other year, Ryder explained by phone, and some evaluations were done by peers and not by administrators. “I was extremely vocal about this,” Ryder said. She said the existing process has been going on “for years and years, a long, long time.” Doyle needs to come up with a new process, she said, and present it to the committee.

Doyle was commended on her community involvement. “Marie recognizes the importance of community support, and encourages community involvement in school activities.” The committee noted she meets regularly with the Carlisle Education Fund and Carlisle School Association, communicates effectively with parents through a variety of means, and has built good working relationships with town officials. She was praised for involving parents in issues that directly affect them. “Her handling of the proposed kindergarten change in hours is an excellent example of her generating community support for a potentially controversial issue that was resolved to all parties’ satisfaction.”

The committee said that Doyle “works tirelessly for the benefit of the Carlisle Public School.” They encouraged Doyle “to continue to build consensus where possible.” The CSC concluded, “We expect that she will continue to focus on developing strong, effective relationships with her staff and the teachers.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito