Nauset Superintendent Dr. Richard Hoffmann released the statement below after he was not allowed to read it at last week’s combined school committee meeting. An apparent clerical error in the posting of the session’s agenda took away Dr. Hoffman’s ability to read the response to his evaluation at the televised board meeting. He told Cape Cod Today that he did distribute the document at the meeting and “I see it as a public document.”
Statement from Superintendent Hoffmann:
JOINT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING – JULY 10, 2014
After viewing the video from the May 22nd Joint Meeting and after a thorough review of all of the evaluations that were submitted, I want to take a few minutes to respond with the hope that my comments can improve the process for future superintendents in Nauset and also set the stage for us to move forward together for a great 2014-15 school year.
The goal of evaluation is to promote professional growth by recognizing what was done well and documenting what needs more attention. In order to keep the evaluation process fair and fact-based, the committees voted at two Joint School Committee meetings last Sept. and Oct. to use the State’s suggested format and forms which are very, very similar to the system and forms used for teachers and Principals. A main feature of the agreed process was to measure the Superintendent’s performance based on the State’s rubric and the focus elements the school committee chose for me at those meetings. We agreed that the rubric would be used to determine the level of the superintendent’s performance from unsatisfactory to exemplary. It was interesting then that the actual performance ratings varied widely.
As an example, one of the focus elements for my evaluation was about fiscal systems. For our 2014-15 budget every selectmen and every finance committee member from all four member towns voted yes in support of the operating budgets. I attended more than 8 meetings with town officials and addressed every question they had on the budget. There were no questions from the voters on the budget at town meetings where every budget passed unanimously. Detailed budget binders were created and every document was posted to our web site. A news story praised me for being so transparent with the budget. And in the Region, careful budget management by me, the central office team, the Principals, and the school committee, resulted in our ability to fund a $500,000 technology plan without a penny of additional taxpayer funding.
In the Region, the financial picture has dramatically improved since I was hired as Superintendent.
When I began in July 2009, my first duty was to lay off 3 teachers in order to balance the budget.
In five years, my team and I, with the support of the Regional School Committee, have dramatically improved the financial picture:
I say all this only to heighten the need for better clarity of the expectations for the superintendent’s performance.
Another matter that I think is important to highlight for the future is the need to contact the superintendent or the school committee chair with any concerns or complaints that a member may receive. If a school committee member gets a call or a complaint it should be communicated to the superintendent so that the issue can be looked into and handled. This isn’t just a suggestion; it’s actually part of the MASC Code of Ethics for SC members. Importantly, it is also written into my contract - Article #25. “The Committees, individually and collectively, shall promptly refer to the Superintendent all criticisms, complaints and suggestions brought to its attention.” It should be noted that this or very similar wording is in EVERY contract for EVERY staff member. It’s a protection for everyone and it promotes better communication. And so I hope that SC members starting now will call the Superintendent with any concerns or complaints that they hear from staff or any constituents.
I want take a minute to assure our communities that the Nauset School District is as strong as ever and will continue to be among the very best school districts in Massachusetts.
1. As evidenced in the recent parent survey, over 77% of parents reported great pride and satisfaction in their school.
2. MCAS scores are as high as or higher than ever.
3. Nauset curriculum, instruction, and assessments are all up to date and cutting edge.
4. Nauset High was recently rated #17 in MA by U.S. News and World Report.
5. Parents are not leaving the District – kindergarten enrollment is up in several towns as are the requests for seats under school choice in the Region
6. Teachers are not leaving the District – we enjoy a very stable work force
7. There have been virtually no lay-offs or program cuts in the last four years
8. Facility upgrades approved by voters are in process with major state grants procured.
And finally, a word about collaboration between teachers and administration. In my view, collaboration is strong. Over the last five years the District’s leadership has worked collaboratively with Association members on many important initiatives including: implementation of the educator evaluation system, adjusting curriculum and instruction to the new Common Core standards (for example setting new writing benchmarks and math common assessments), ATLAS curriculum mapping project, hiring of new staff and principals, and all of the recent collaborative work on District Determined Measures. This work has clearly been collaborative in content and spirit. I am quite proud of the teacher leaders who contribute to these efforts.
Having said that, is there a sense of tension among staff? The answer is yes; but the cause is not demands from local administration. It is the continuing demands and unfunded mandates handed down from the federal and state government. Many of the projects I listed above have their origin from the MA Dept. of Elementary & Secondary Education. These are all important initiatives but the pace of implementation required by the state is very stressful and arduous. So the stress teachers AND administrators are feeling is real, but the cause is mostly out of our hands.
Let me end by saying how very proud I am of our accomplishments together over the last five years and especially the outstanding work of our team of administrators, teachers, and staff that make great things happen for our students each and every day in Nauset.
Richard J. Hoffmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
July 10, 2014