By: DJ Deeb – Feb.2018
I have written numerous times that the City of Methuen is truly fortunate to have Superintendent Judy Scannell at the helm as the leader of Methuen Public Schools. Members of the school committee completed their annual evaluations of Superintendent Scannell in December and as expected, Superintendent Scannell received high marks for her performance.
The Education Reform Act of 1993 mandated that school committees across the Commonwealth evaluate their school district superintendents on annual basis. In December, members of the Methuen school committee evaluated Superintendent Judy Scannell using the instrument recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It is my belief that this instrument, like the tool used to evaluate teachers, does not do our Superintendent justice, but she received glowing reviews nonetheless. To her credit, Superintendent Scannell insisted that the committee evaluate her using almost the same instrument used to evaluate teachers.
Superintendent Scannell was evaluated in four standards: (1) Instructional Leadership; (2) Management and Operations; (3) Family and Community Engagement; and (4) Professional Culture. She was rated using the following four indicators:
1 Point Unsatisfactory = Performance on a standard or overall has not significantly improved following a rating of Needs Improvement-or performance is consistently below the requirements of a standard or overall and is considered inadequate, or both.
2 Points Needs Improvement/Developing = Performance on a standard or overall is below the requirements of a standard or overall but is not considered to be Unsatisfactory at this time. Improvement is necessary and expected.
3 Points Proficient – Proficient practice is understood to be fully satisfactory. This is the rigorous expected level of performance.
4 Points Exemplary = A rating of Exemplary indicates that practice significantly exceeds Proficient and could serve as a model of practice regionally or statewide.
In the area of Instructional Leadership, Superintendent Scannell received an overall committee rating of 3.5.
In the area of Management and Operations, Superintendent Scannell received an overall committee rating of 3.8.
In the area of Family and Community Engagement, Superintendent Scannell received an overall committee rating of 3.7.
In the area of Professional Culture, Superintendent Scannell received an overall committee rating of 3.7.
The above review led to an overall performance rating of 3.675.
Congratulations to Superintendent Scannell on this excellent review. Parents and members of the community can attest to the fact that our Superintendent can be seen at nearly every Methuen Public Schools event. That means she is out and about nearly every night. It should also be noted that Superintendent Scannell has refused a cost of living raise for the past four years even though she is currently one of the lowest paid superintendents in the region. The taxpayers of Methuen are truly getting a bargain and real value with Superintendent Scannell.
Both the school committee and Superintendent Scannell are well aware that there is still much work to be done to increase Methuen’s raring from a Level 3 to a Level 2, and eventually a Level 1, school district with the state. We are all committed to making that happen. Resources are limited and the school committee is trying to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers at the same time.
Last year, in FY 2018, the School Department was the only major department in the city to reduce its operating budget.
It cut its operating expenses by 2 percent. The School Department did receive a 3 percent increase in funding the year before mostly to cover mandated services. It should be noted that 81% of school districts in the Commonwealth spend above state-mandated Foundation levels for their school systems. Historically, the City of Methuen has spent at or below Foundation levels.
In considering the Methuen schools’ budget, the following facts taken from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding Methuen schools should be noted:
* Bottom 15% of districts for total per pupil expenditure
* Bottom 9% of districts for per pupil expenditure for administration
* Bottom 38% of districts for per pupil expenditure for guidance and school psychologists
* Bottom 34% of districts for per pupil expenditure for classroom teachers and specialist teachers
* Bottom 5% for per pupil expenditure for instructional materials, equipment, and technology
* Bottom 20% for per pupil expenditure for operations and maintenance
* Bottom 23% for per pupil expenditure for other teaching services
All things considered, the teachers and support staff are doing an excellent job educating and providing quality services to the students of Methuen Public Schools without user fees and bus fees. Not many surrounding districts can brag about the latter.
On a personal note, I want to thank members of the Methuen School Committee for unanimously voting to elect me Secretary of the school committee for the upcoming year. I also want to congratulate my colleague Nick DiZoglio and wish him well on his election to the Vice-Chair position.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and member of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Deeb also serves as Social Studies Department Chair at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003).