Here is Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo’s evaluation of Dr. Boone:
Dr. Melinda Boone completes her second year as WPS Superintendent … My Evaluation
By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee
Each June the Worcester School Committee, by law, evaluates the performance of Worcester’s School Superintendent. Tonight all members of the Worcester School Committee will stannd up and publicly gave their evaluation summary of Superintendent Boone on her second year as Superintendent of our city schools.
The evaluation is based on the goals and objectives that were mutually agreed upon by the Superintendent and the School Committee at the beginning of the school year.
Two years ago I was the first school committee member to greet Dr. Boone as she came to Worcester from Virginia for her interview. I found Dr. Boone to be a person who was easy to talk with and passionate about education. At her interview Dr. Boone said, “The difference between success and failure is opportunity…. I believe that all students need access to the same standards.” She also said she was high on best practices, a strong supporter of parent involvement and believes that the challenge ahead is the quality of teaching.
Here is my evaluation of Dr. Boone as will be presented tonight at City Hall:
Dr. Boone has stated on several occasions, “I see ourselves competing with private, charter, parochial and other public schools. Our goal is to make sure that we become the school of choice.” Again, she reiterated that at the “Parent/Guardian Expo” Saturday, June 11, held at WPI.
She has demonstrated by her actions that parents are an integral part of the success of children and education in general. Dr. Boone has worked closely with our schools to maintain an inviting and welcoming atmosphere along with working closely with parents to gain their trust and show them that the Worcester Public School’s is truly a partner with them.
Dr. Boone believes that parental involvement is a key piece to educating our children and has reached out to the community in an attempt to make the “Village” concept part of the educational solution. She has participated in the Worcester Educational Collaborative Community briefing on Innovation Schools, been the keynote speaker at the Worcester Community Action Council United Service Executive Group Breakfast and served as MC at the annual community MLK Breakfast. She has been a guest speaker at the Worcester Business Leaders meeting, the Worcester UNUM Girls’ Leadership Conference Panel, spoken at several Worcester Community Action Council seminars and in general has met with interfaith leaders, social agencies representatives, business leaders and many school group parent organizations.
In her second year as Superintendent she has reached out more and more to the community and has worked on the establishment of many more partnerships. In the great number of community appearances that she has made many members of the community have stated to me that she is a communicator and is also a good listener. I have found her to be confident in her ability to lead, approachable, deliberates on decisions before she makes them, is passionate about her work, and treats all individuals with respect.
Goals of the Superintendent:
Goal one – Develop and ensure district governance through positive school-committee-superintendent relations.
Objective: building a positive relationship with the School Committee
• Worked with the Mayor on facilitating a retreat as an opportunity to improve relationships and to support district improvement. The retreat gave all school committee members an opportunity to express their ideas and concerns on how we move forward.
• Has focused on two-way communication for Dr. Boone invited members to meet with her individually if needed and some have done so. Individual meetings with the School Committee also took place as administration crafted the budget. In addition, I have found Dr. Boone to be accessible when I have had a concern and has been a good listener and open to suggestions for change. However, she not afraid to “push back” if she feels that the concept is not sound.
• Worked with the School Committee on the adoption of the Innovation School process and looked for input from the community as well.
• The key element in this goal is that we, School Committee and the Superintendent, work as a team. We may disagree with one another but at the end of the day we make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the student and the school system. This can only be accomplished by TEAM WORK!
Goal two: Increase organizational effectiveness and efficiency
• Given the constraints of the budget we have had to decide on what are the priorities as we move forward in our school system. At the recommendation of the Superintendent positive changes have been made that would be within the budget.
Objective: supporting schools to improve student achievement.
• Level 4 school redesign had to take place and Dr. Boone made the difficult recommendation on how to proceed. By moving forward, with the support of the School Committee, we were able to secure additional funding for the two Level 4 schools.
• Administration has continued to focus on leadership development by meeting frequently with our school principals.
• Dr. Boone’s administration effectively dealt with the Attorney General’s office as the system had to respond and implement a comprehensive Environment Management System.
• The school system has profited by the work done by Dr. Boone’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Mulqueen. His hard work in all areas of the curriculum has made our system better. Working with the Standing Committee on Teaching, Learning, and Student Support in the dissemination of information in advance has assisted the Standing Committee in doing their due diligence. In addition, his flexibility on the meeting time has been most helpful. The time and effort Dr. Mulqueen, under the guidance of Dr. Boone, has put in on the Level 4 Schools and the Innovation Process has strengthened our system.
• Another area that I support has been the implementation of the new state anti-bullying law. Several members of administration have put forth a very strong comprehensive plan and it is a whole school approach in which training for all staff members has taken place. I believe that our plan is one of the best in the state.
• Dr. Boone has continued to give small class size on the elementary level a high priority and it has been one of the many factors in raising our MCAS scores.
Goal three: School budget
Objective: to develop a budget that reflects the district’s alignment to a focus on student achievement and serves to address the quality teaching and learning along with the community’s values in education.
• Through Dr. Boone’s leadership even with a zero-based budget she was able to preserve core instruction programs and services despite the loss of stimulus funding. Dr. Boone engaged in a Six Prong Communication Plan gathering input from students, parents, teachers, principals, community partners and the business community. The attempt was to preserve the WPS Compact with limited funds. I thank Dr. Boone for the transparency of the budget and hope that next year we can be more aggressive with the city side as we fight for additional funding.
The superintendent and the School Committee need to be advocates together to secure the needed funding for our children. We need to engage in early conversations on the processing fee for grants, Medicaid reimbursement, and funding above the foundation budget.
• The Administration did secure over $15 million in competitive grants over the past two years to support the district’s drive to become a performance based organization. I would like to congratulate those involved and encourage our administration to continue to apply for every grant available next year that would benefit our school system.
• Dr. Boone has restructured some Administration positions in an attempt to place the focus on meeting the needs as outlined in the “Worcester Public School Compact.” We will have to evaluate how effective those moves are next year and the impact it has had on our school system.
Goal 4: Increase student achievement for all students while simultaneously closing the achievement gap.
Objective: To continue to focus on a common framework for continuous improvement resulting in the reduction of the number of schools not meeting state and federal expectations.
• There has been data that shows we, as a system, are making steady progress… decrease in our high school rate, eight schools receiving commendations due to their achievement in narrowing proficiency gaps, increase in our Grade 3 Reading MCAS scores, and increase in the rates of proficient in ELA and Math.
• The Fast Forward pilot across the K-12 spectrum, according to many schools that I have spoken to, shows very positive results at this time. I look forward to the data as we review the impact this program has had on our students.
• The school turnaround plans for the Level 4 schools has shown good results and as we gather the data and discuss the good things happening at both schools I look forward hearing the positive results that have taken place.
• Our partnering with the Promise Neighborhood initiative to fully engage the Main South Community in healthy schools and neighborhoods will certainly have a tremendous impact on the area. Congratulations to Dr. Boone and her staff for being selected by the state in the Wraparound Zone Grant for the four schools involved in the Promise Neighborhood. The hope is that the grant will strengthen the work of District partners as they support the academic success of students.
• Dr. Boone, along with Dr. Mulqueen, has been involved in many community focus groups as our many partners attempt to assist us in improving our schools.
• Dr. Boone has increased the number of schools open for summer learning with the limited funds available. Based on research, my suggestion in the future would be to increase the availability of learning during the summer. We need to engage outside agencies and church groups to open their doors to a learning environment. Let us find additional ways of engaging our students in literacy activities during the summer months by finding ways of putting books into the hands of our children. Consider working with corporate sponsors in supporting the Worcester Public Library Book Mobile, and look for creative ways of opening up some of our school libraries in some of our “at risk neighborhoods” for parents and children to borrow books during the summer months.
• I would also suggest that we continue to look to expand our writing program and check the data in our schools as to what strategies are effective in the teaching of writing. Are schools teaching writing as a process and are students writing daily?
• Continue to work with our Pre-school advocates in finding ways of getting additional low-income children into a pre-school setting. More prevention in this area needs to take place if we are to cut into the achievement gap. Furthermore, we need to be sure those children not ready to transition from kindergarten to grade one are not passed on and that a parent-teacher conference be held to look at options for a second year in the kindergarten.
• I would also continue to encourage administration to expand our AP availability and look for ways of expanding our dual enrollment with the colleges.
Goal five: Improve public trust, commitment, and confidence through open, honest, communication and responsive corrective action to identified obstacles to improving student achievement and the conditions of teaching and learning.
Objective: To establish collaborative relationships and partnerships to garner understanding of and support for district efforts to improve student achievement.
• I suggested in last year’s evaluation that consideration be given for an annual State of the School message. Dr. Boone did indeed give the first annual State of the School message this school year and it was well received by the community.
This coming school year I would like Dr. Boone to consider a talk show in the fall, winter and spring on various radio stations or on one of our local television stations. This would be in keeping with this goal of communicating with the community. We need to continue alerting the public about the positive activities and results going on in our system and the successes that we have had with our programs.
• Dr. Boone has continued to update our website to assist our parents with needed information about our system and this coming year we have added “Twitter” as another communication media for our parents.
• In order to reach out to the community, Dr. Boone has been involved in a number of community agencies including United Way of Central Mass, Pioneering Healthier Communities Leadership Team and many others. She has continued to demonstrate to this city her commitment to the community.
• The same can be said about her involvement on a state level. She Worked with the Governor’s STEM advisory Executive Committee, is Tri-chair of the Urban Superintendent’s Network, belongs to and many other organizations. In a short period of two years, Dr. Boone has developed a reputation as a State leader in education.
• Dr. Boone continues to connect with parents to seek their opinion. A parent’s survey is being conducted as well as a student perception survey and the data will be forthcoming to the School Committee before the start of the next school year.
• An area that tends to be overlooked is the interaction with students. Dr. Boone’s Student Advisory Meetings with representatives from all the high schools has been outstanding. She encourages the students to bring their concerns to the table and enthusiastically makes the students feel that their thoughts and ideas are most welcome. I have seen this interaction several times during the year and have been very impressed.
Goal Six: Establish a supportive, positive and effective district climate and culture singularly focused on the improvement of student achievement, using a continuous improvement model.
Objective: To design a comprehensive accountability system for Worcester Public Schools linking all district practices to student achievement.
• The implementation of the Comprehensive Accountability System certainly makes sense and I look forward to the next feedback session as to what is working and what needs to be changed. The Accountability Task Force was initiated in March of 2010. At that time Dr. Boone stated that the Comprehensive Accountability system will be a cornerstone in the district’s overall improvement strategy for advancing student and school achievement in a focused and coherent manner. Later in May a very comprehensive report was given to the School Committee. The concept of linking practices to student’s achievement is essential if we are to give our students a world class education.
• According to research the use of focused instructional coaches to support our teachers and improve instruction works. I ask that administration give us the data and the evaluation as to how much it has improved instruction. I would also support the administration in expanding the instructional coaches to the high schools. Again, we need to evaluate the results and see where we can make improvements.
Dr. Boone has continued to show growth in her position for she now knows more about the community, the political climate, and the stakeholders in our city. Dr. Boone listens to the ideas of the community and is not afraid to “push back” when ideas are not in the best interest of our school system. She has created an atmosphere of high expectations for all staff members and is most passionate about moving our students to excellence. Dr. Boone has great work ethics, boundless energy, and has the integrity needed in a superintendent.
I would like to thank Dr. Boone, the administrative staff, our teachers and support staff for moving our system forward during this past year. Let us all continue to work together, share ideas and continue to focus on our children and families. I’d like to end with this quote: “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.”