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Crowe receives positive marks on evaluation

Superintendent 'working at fixing our broken district'

April 17, 2016
SPENCER — Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School Committee members recently released their first evaluation of Superintendent Tracy Crowe, which featured largely positive reviews.

Overall, committee members recognized that, while Crowe inherited an array of challenges, she has been successful on many fronts in moving the district forward through a turbulent climate.

Chaired by Heather Messier, a SEBRSC subcommittee met with Crowe on several occasions to select the standards on which her evaluation would be based. Joined by subcommittee members Michael Ethier, Vincent Cloutier, and Angela Knapton, Messier evaluated the superintendent on multiple standards.

Meanwhile, School Committee Chairman Kevin Hayes elected not to evaluate Crowe.

"I feel it was important to let both communities see the strengths and weaknesses of Dr. Crowe through the lens of other members," Hayes said. "Since I have worked with the superintendent on almost a daily basis, I have very strong feelings about her ability, the cultural obstacles she has fought to overcome and the success she has demonstrated in working with the comptroller and committee to move the district into financial stability."

Subcommittee members agreed that Crowe would be evaluated on management and operations, as well as on professional culture, both of which were broken down into various elements. The management and operations category included such elements as human resources and fiscal systems. Meanwhile, the professional culture category measured the Superintendent's effectiveness in leading administrative meetings, developing core values and crafting mission statements.

Overall, Crowe received mostly favorable grades in all categories, though evaluators did identify a number of areas in which they felt she needed improvement. It was important, evaluators agreed, to take into account the unusual circumstances she encountered in the district after taking the job.

"I feel the superintendent has brought the district further forward in the past twelve months than has been accomplished in the previous five years," Knapton said.

In her evaluation, Knapton stated that Crowe has increased the effectiveness and importance of administrative meetings – and that the staff has become more of a team than in the past. Knapton rated Crowe as "proficient" in management and operations and "exemplary" in professional culture.

Ethier rated Crowe as "proficient" in professional culture but "needing improvement" in management and operations. Oppositely, Cloutier rated Crowe as "proficient" in management and operations" and "needing improvement" in professional culture.

Evaluators recognized that there have been many adversities beyond the superintendent's control, including several inherited problems and outside distractions. Many review comments praised Crowe for her role in stabilizing the district financially, while others stressed the need for better communications moving forward.

The evaluators agreed that the public attacks targeting Crowe in the last several months have been unjustified.

"The persecution that Dr. Crowe is receiving is unwarranted and very unfair. Citizens, parents, teachers and students need only open their eyes and their minds, and they would clearly see a broken district that desperately needs fixing," Cloutier said. "Dr. Crowe is working at fixing our broken district."

Messier added, "The superintendent has been making a strong effort to improve communications with the school committee. I do feel that the Superintendent appears to be on track for proficiency during the next evaluation cycle."

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees indicates that the goal for new superintendents is to become proficient in all aspects within a three-year cycle. Crowe recently submitted a three-year district improvement plan that will be mirrored by a data-driven budget, school officials said.

Kevin Flanders can be reached at 508-909-4140, or by e-mail at kflanders@stonebridgepress.com.

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