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November 29, 2013

School head passes first test

PEABODY — He’s good. And he could get better.

That was the judgment of the Peabody School Committee in their evaluation of school Superintendent Joe Mastrocola. In his first year on the job he was rated on average as “proficient,” with only “exemplary” a higher rating. For that matter, the superintendent was faulted mainly in one area — for not communicating better with the board, but he was faulted for this repeatedly. Yet some held that shortcoming is merely a problem of adjusting to what members want.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, also the School Committee chairman, offered a summary of the evaluations he and his six colleagues submitted. “On balance,” he said, “Mr. Mastrocola has earned proficient or near proficient ratings in each of the four standards used as criteria. .... Although Committee members highlight strengths and weaknesses in their individual performance evaluations, most agree that progress is being made and improvement efforts are ongoing.”

The “four standards” include instructional leadership, management and operation, family and community engagement and professional culture. Possible ratings include “unsatisfactory,” “needs improvement,” “proficient” and “exemplary.” It was in the category of professional culture that Mastrocola’s mark dropped from proficient to near proficient with communication seen as lacking. “One member did note improvement in Mr. Mastrocola’s communication of ideas,” said Bettencourt. “That member hopes to see continued improvement in Mr. Mastrocola’s communication.”

In fact, complaints about communications cropped up with each category. Under professional culture, a member also questioned his conflict management.

On the other hand, as to family and community engagement, the mayor said, “One member noted the many community-based engagements held by the Superintendent as well as his attendance at many non-school events to support the schools.” In terms of instructional leadership, one member tagged that as Mastrocola’s greatest strength.

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