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DeRuosi’s Report Card


School Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi earns “proficient” grade in first year evaluation by School Committee

All things considered, Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi, Jr. received an outstanding report card from School Committee members in his first evaluation since taking charge of the town’s public school system more than a year ago. In a summary report approved at a brief meeting Monday night, the committee voted 4-0 to accept an evaluation that concluded DeRuosi was “proficient” in four standards encompassing 13 professional practice goals the committee set for him.

School Committee Member Arthur Grabowski missed the session because he was on a vacation day. But his evaluation was considered along with those of his colleagues in a composite score that gave the superintendent an average of 3.8 in assessing progress toward meeting professional practice goals.

“If you were going to give it a numerical grade, I’d say he was in the high B range – maybe a B-plus,” member Linda Gaieski told The Saugus Advocate after the meeting. “I think he did a very good job,” she said.

The End-of-Cycle Summative Evaluation Report, which was compiled by School Committee Chair Jeannie Meredith, considered each of the four standards on a 1 to 5 scale, ranging from “did not meet” to “exceeded.” The numerical evaluation also measured “some progress,” 2; “significant progress,” 3; and “met,” 4.

DeRuosi received a “proficient” rating in meeting the four professional practice goals: instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture. The “proficient” rating means “professional practice is understood to be fully satisfactory.” “This is the rigorous expected level of performance,” according to the methodology for interpreting the evaluation.

DeRuosi gave himself the same “proficient” assessment in self-evaluation of meeting professional practice goals. (See related story.)

Praise and constructive criticism

“A rating of Exemplary indicates that practice significantly exceeds Proficient and could serve as a model of practice regionally or statewide,” according to instructions noted on the form prepared by the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

The “proficient” evaluation scored by the five-member committee was supported by evaluator comments compiled by Meredith. Much of the comments included praise for DeRuosi, who assumed control of a school district rated by the state as “Level 3,” a designation for the lowest performing 20 percent of school districts in Massachusetts. “Dr. DeRuosi has managed to bring leadership to the District which has been noticeably lacking in past administrations,” the committee noted in its composite comments prepared by Meredith.

“He was an instrumental member of the New School Building Committee team that disseminated the information and facts to the community enabling them to make a well informed, educated and overwhelming decision on the need for a new school,” the committee chair noted in summarizing members’ remarks.

“It should be noted that Superintendent DeRuosi has demonstrated an outstanding work ethic in his mission to accomplish the extremely ambitious 13 goals set before him by the School Committee,” the summary said. “On conclusion, Dr. DeRuosi’s overall aggregate evaluation rating is Proficient.”

In addition, the summary recommended ways for the superintendent to improve his overall performance:

• “We would like to see more superintendent visibility in all schools.

• Standard and uniform protocol for school visitation needs to be enforced to ensure the safety of students and staff in ALL School buildings.

• Dr. DeRuosi needs to continue to work on supervision, evaluation, culture, curriculum assessment and climate in the Saugus Public Schools.

• Would like to see support of existing initiatives as well as the formulation of aggressive wellness initiative addressing the social and emotional wellness of our student body.”

“A work in progress”

While praising DeRuosi for his first year at the helm, Gaieski called his overall performance “a work in progress.”

“I look forward to him working with us and I see more advancement next year,” Gaieski said in an interview after the meeting. “His job is by no means done – as the Carpenters’ song goes, ‘We’ve only just begun,’” she said.

“But the man clearly did his due diligence this year. There are some things that I’m not thoroughly satisfied – like the writing program … He found the most success in improving the operation aspects. Now, I expect he’s going to get down to the nuts and bolts of improving the school district,” she said.

School Committee Vice-Chair Peter Manoogian said DeRuosi’s performance was impressive in many ways, considering “there were so many operational issues that had to be tackled.”

“He did deal with two of the chronically troublesome fiscal matters that have been plaguing the school district over the years,” Manoogian said, referring to the lack of financial controls on the food service and athletic departments – issues that were the subject of audits and measures to curb poor fiscal management early in DeRuosi’s administration.

“But we do need more communication from the superintendent. We need reports from him on problems he sees and steps he’s taking to correct them,” said Manoogian.

Gaieski said the superintendent’s “biggest accomplishment” during his first year was “educating the town” on the school district’s need for a new combination Middle-High School to be built at the current site of the Saugus High School, which has been in danger of losing its accreditation in recent years.

More than 70 percent of the nearly 5,000 voters who went to the polls in June favored a new $160.7 million Middle-High School built to accommodate 1,360 students in grades 6 through 12. Recent reimbursement amounts range from 40 percent to 57.2 percent, based on documents provided by the state. The project, which the town initially said would be eligible for a minimum 53 percent reimbursement by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, includes a multipurpose athletic field and track.

A second ballot question that supported $25 million for a District-Wide Master Plan Solution that includes the renovation and improvement at the Belmonte Middle School (which will house grades 3-5) and Veterans Memorial School (Pre-K) also passed by a resounding 69 percent. The town will not receive any reimbursement for that project.

By Mark E. Vogler

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