Each year, the School Committee provides an annual evaluation on Westford School Department Superintendent Bill Olsen’s yearly goals, and once again they provided Olsen with a positive review.
In a 6-0 vote, the committee approved a $3,500 bonus to Olsen, reflecting their general satisfaction in meeting his five yearly goals for the 2015-16 School Year.
All six of the School Committee members participating in the evaluation indicated that Olsen had made at least some progress regarding four of the five goals and all six members classified Olsen as “proficient” in his overall summative evaluation.
In the fifth goal, a two-year-goal establishing a committee that will research future labor skills and develop a conceptual model of future classrooms, progress was also made according to all participating members except for Avery Adam and Erika Kohl. Within evaluation documents, Kohl and Adam indicated frustration as the committee has not yet met.
Adam was not in attendance during the meeting, but in the written evaluation she also believed Olsen needed improvement with communicating with parents and the larger community.
Olsen expressed his disagreement with some of Adam’s viewpoints, but he also respected her views and hoped to engage in discussions on how to meet her expectations moving forward.
During the meeting itself, members of the School Committee provided almost universal praise to Olsen for his work over the year. Kohl praised Olsen for his community outreach abilities and vision. Chris Sanders appreciated what he saw as Olsen’s integrity. Chairman Arthur Benoit applauded Olsen’s use of pilot programs to incrementally bring in new improvements. And Tom Clay was amazed at how well prepared Westford graduates are as well how that can be accomplished on such a tight budget.
“I ran into someone at the Market Baskets or Whole Foods and said ‘let me tell you about a school district that consistently in the top 5 percent on most academic measures and somehow manages to do it while maintaining per-student spending in the bottom quintile, the bottom 20 percent, of all schools, all districts in the Commonwealth. They ought to feel very well served by that,” said Clay. “ It’s sort of a miracle worker aspect.”
Once again, School Committee Member David Keele refused to fill out official rankings on the evaluation, seeing the process as a forced, objective analysis on what is ultimately should be a voluntary, subjective review.
However, Keele also provided praise, echoing Clay’s comments on budget efficiency as well as providing safety throughout all schools.
In response to the compliments, Olsen complimented Assistant Superintendent Kerry Clery, calling her one of the best Assistant Superintendents in the country. He also reflected praise back onto the School Committee as well.
“The School Committee sets the tone, the shape and the culture of the school system, and that’s why we have such a great school system,” he said. “You run for office with true purpose, to impact the lives of children and not for grudges or dancing from here to the Selectmen to State Representative. You serve for the right reasons.”
The annual evaluation and connected yearly bonus is required as part of Olsen’s negotiated contract, with the bonus ranging anywhere from $0 to $4,000 depending on the School Committee’s analysis of Olsen’s goals. In 2015, Olsen received a $4,000 bonus.