Monthly Archives: August 2012

New Superintendent’s Contract

The next time I praise the SAU board for openness, please direct a cold hose my way.  More later, in the meantime, here is the contract that was signed last night to much applause from the SAU board itself.  I’ll soon have some commentary on this contract and the disappointingly predictable meeting last night to “finalize” the contract.

For now I’ll just report that during the meeting Mr. Mascola, the board chair, referred to Dr. Metzler as the “new commander.”  This was shockingly revealing.  News flash, board:  you are the boss of Dr. Metzler.  Those two words speak volumes about the leadership of your elected officials and encapsulates so much of what was wrong under the previous administration.  So here we go again…

2012 Superintendent’s contract

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Minds and Bodies Needed Tomorrow Night

Public meeting to finalize the contract terms for the new superintendent.  

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30

7 pm

Superintendent’s Office, 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH 

Your ideas and your eyes are needed at this meeting.  This is a chance to direct the future in a way that may not come again for years, perhaps a generation. Eyeball power can not be overestimated. See you there.

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Public Meeting to Finalize Contract Terms!

More kudos to the SAU board.  Not only did the board select a promising new superintendent, but they are holding a fully public meeting to finalize the superintendent’s contract terms.  This is a great step forward in transparency and accountability.  One must hope it will also be an opportunity for the board to show its receptiveness to taxpayer concerns and those of parents who want underachieving  administrators fired without punishing financial consequences.

Do not underestimate the power of many eyes on the conduct of a board. Parents and taxpayers alike should fill the SAU’s boardroom to show their concern for getting this contract right.  This board has won some respect from me, but many important contract issues remain. (See “Want to be Dissatisfied with Your Job?  Read the Superintendent’s Contract” posted on June 16, 2012.)

This is the SAU 55 meeting notice released today:

The SAU 55 Board will meet on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Superintendent’s Office, 30 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH to finalize the contract and benefits package of the new Superintendent of Schools.

I hope to see you there.

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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Superintendent Search

Get a Sense of Dr. Metzler

As principal of North Quincy High School, Dr. Metzler wrote a monthly message to the student body.  These brief messages are revealing of the principal’s values and direction which I heartily applaud.  Here is his August message from http://quincypublicschools.com/nqhsprincipal/2012/08/16/dr-metzlers-message-august-2012/

Greetings,

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer. As we wind down and get ready to start a new year I would like everyone to think about our core values and how to weave them into your goals for the new school year.

Knowledge, character and service continue to be a major focus at North Quincy High School. As you develop goals, please think about the acquisition of knowledge, the demonstration of strong character and how you can put service before self. Our core values help make North a special place, but it is really the student body that executes our mission.

Remember everyone may not be born smart, but everyone can get smart. It is quite simple! There is no substitution for hard work and you have to want it. Please set high goals for this coming school year, plan on working hard and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

Remember we are always here for you and look forward to celebrating your success!

 Respectfully,

 Dr. Earl F. Metzler, Principal

Given the problem recent generations have with entitlement, it is unfortunate that Dr. Metzler included the exhortation, “…don’t settle for anything less than you deserve,” but in the context I think he meant, “don’t settle for anything less than what hard work earns you.”  I sure wish he would have written that, but otherwise, knowledge, character and service are fine values for all citizens and refreshing talk from an academic leader who does not seem uncomfortable with moral leadership as well.  Kudos, Dr. Metlzer. Kudos, SAU 55 board.

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New Superintendent Announced

Below is the public announcement distributed by SAU 55 this afternoon.   It is good to see the board stressing this candidate’s history of academic leadership and quantifiable results which is a top priority for parents.  Let’s hope the board is equally responsive to the concerns of taxpayers when negotiating the contract.

SAU BOARD ANNOUNCES NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
The SAU 55 Board announces the nomination of Dr. Earl F. Metzler, II of Quincy, Massachusetts as the new Superintendent of Schools for SAU 55. The next step in this process will be to negotiate a contract and starting date.
Dr. Metzler received his Doctorate in Education from Walden University and has served for more than 25 years in public education in Massachusetts, serving as a high school principal, middle school principal, assistant principal, teacher and consultant. He is currently the principal of North Quincy High School, a school with a rich history of student achievement, specifically advanced placement programs. Student achievement and recognition for excellence continue to thrive at North Quincy High School under Earl’s leadership. North Quincy High was recently named one of Massachusetts “smartest” high schools by Boston Magazine. Earl is married and has two daughters.
Earl has worked as a consultant for both the Massachusetts Department of Education and Mass Insight. Working with underperforming schools, Earl has helped author school improvement plans and blueprints for improvement in several large urban districts. The schools that Earl worked with have made vast improvements in student achievement and have sustained positive learning climates.
Earl is a dynamic leader and highly respected by his peers. He has made significant improvements in every school that he has worked producing data-driven quantifiable results. Earl is a graduate of the Illinois Superintendents’ Preparation Academy and has recently defended his doctoral study, which study was published earlier this spring.
The board expects Dr. Metzler’s leadership abilities and commitment to success will be an asset to the continued successes of Hampstead and Timberlane endeavors and they look forward to a smooth transition.
Michael Mascola, Chair
School Administrative Unit No. 55

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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Superintendent Search

A New Candidate is Suggested

Tonight, while the SAU board was meeting in non-public to possibly decide a future superintendent, a passionate endorsement for music teacher Tony Dibartolomeo was sent to me. Written by Len Mullen, a Danville resident and former Timberlane Budget Committee member, it is intended to encourage readers to write the school board to consider Mr. Dibartolomeo as superintendent.  I do not know Mr. Dibartolomeo and do not have an opinion about his suitability as a superintendent, nor do I agree with Len ‘s assessment of the two outside finalists, but I have reproduced Mr. Mullen’s own blog posting (with one small edit) so readers can form their own opinion and take action if they wish. Here it is.

Standard of Excellence

It’s not often that Timberlane and Excellence are uttered in the same breath.  In fact, this only happens when people are talking about the music program.  While Richard La Salle blamed unsupportive parents and uninspired students for his failure, Tony Dibartolomeo inspired the very same parents and the very same students to make beautiful music.  He motivated parents, teachers, and students to be something La Salle could not — excellent.

The departure of Superintendent LaSalle created an opportunity for the school district to turn the page on a decade of failure.  The school board, under a lot of pressure from parents, looked far and wide for a replacement for La Salle.  They identified three.  Any of the three finalists will be a suitable replacement for Richard La Salle.  Any of the three can achieve the same things he did.  If the goal of the the search was to find someone to preside over school board meetings, the search has been a success.  A lot of school board members and SAU 55 employees set their sights no higher than this.  They will celebrate the success of their search no matter which candidate is selected and they will wring their hands when this new superintendent fails to improve the school district.

The rest of us set our sights a lot higher.  We hoped the school board would choose an excellent superintendent.  We hoped they would hire a guy who could promise to make out school excellent — and mean it.  We hoped they would hire Tony Dibartolomeo.

For those who do not know who Tony Dibartolomeo is, he is the Director of the Timberlane Music Program.  He is known as Mr. D to people associated with the program.  Mr. D is the person responsible for the excellent marching bands, concert bands, choruses, and orchestras we are all so proud of.  He is the person responsible for the Timberlane students who are recognized for excellence at state and national competitions.  He is the person who is responsible for the Performing Arts Center.  Mr. D’s title is director and that is what he does.  He hires and directs excellent employees who instill excellence in our kids.

Who would not want our kids to excel outside of the music program?  How awesome would it be for TRSD math teachers to act and succeed like TRSD music teachers?  Wouldn’t be great if your kid’s english teacher taught with the enthusiasm of Louise Pajak?  Or the committment of Ken Clark? Or the dedication of John Mainella?  I promise you no student music teacher has handed out a word search puzzle to the Wind Ensemble.

It would be a loss to remove Mr. D from the PAC, but I have no doubt he has an excellent successor ready to sustain the excellence of the program.   As superintendent, I think we could count on Mr. D to do the same across the district.

This is a no brainer.  Timberlane needs to promote it most successful leader to its most important position.

By Len Mullen, posted on DanvileDelivery.wordpress.com August 22, 2012

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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Superintendent Search

No Decision Yet… Why I Worry

Well, looks like the board did not come to a decision last night.  They are holding another non-public meeting on August 22 .

I cannot urge you strongly enough to watch the presentations by the three candidates being broadcast on cable.  The choice doesn’t look all that difficult to me, but perhaps the board is checking references and coming to grips with contract terms having left the previous contract hanging out there without any public qualification so that any candidate would reasonably think that contract is a good baseline from which to negotiate. As I’ve said before, the objectionable aspect of Mr. LaSalle’s contract was not the salary but the terms.

Here’s why I worry.  The contract will be finalized in non-public and the vote to offer the contract to the candidate will likely be taken in non-public.  If the contract is another gold-plated give away, we, the voters, will have no way of knowing who supported the contract and who opposed it.  I’d have less anxiety if there were some accountability about the nature of the contract.  We must hope, too, that the board exercises some independent thought from the consultant’s contract advice.

The consulting firm, NESDEC, listed five SAUs in their references to the board.  Those same five SAUs (in addition to a few others) were included in the contract committee’s spreadsheet comparison of superintendent contracts. No surprise that all five contracts had an awful lot in common. This means, of course, that the contract committee is using a comparison baseline that has been heavily influenced by the consultant they have hired who is himself  a retired superintendent.

I would heartily like to see fresh thinking and leadership at the SAU with the hiring of an outside candidate.  The superintendent’s contract must clearly define how we can decline to renew a contract without costly penalties, and renewals must be contingent on objective measures of job performance. The superintendent has to be all about academic accountability, and every provision in that contract should show how serious we are about that value.

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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Superintendent Search