Question of the week for School Committee candidates
Every week leading up to the election, Belmont Journal will ask the three candidates in the race for the two School Committee seats a question of the week.
Here's this week's question:
The School Committee is expected to collaborate with and hold the superintendent accountable at the same time. The School Committee is charged with the evaluation of the superintendent. It can be challenging to give honest feedback in a public, televised setting. How will you ensure that you can give valid feedback, including constructive criticism, given the public forum?
The answers were limited to 100 words or less.
As an HR professional, giving high quality feedback is my area of expertise, and I feel comfortable having these discussions in any setting. The School Committee and superintendent should decide what areas of performance to prioritize and choose clear, actionable, measurable metrics to assess the superintendent’s performance in those areas. The evaluation discussion should include areas for growth, areas of strength, new goals, and collaboration with the superintendent on supporting their growth. Effective feedback will help develop the relationship between the superintendent and school committee and provide transparency on the relationship to the community.
The School Committee selects a superintendent to implement policies and provide professional leadership for Belmont’s schools. The School Committee and the superintendent must be able to work together as a team so that the School Committee’s policies are reflected in the administration of our schools.
The best way to make the relationship work is to articulate clear expectations for the superintendent at the outset and provide regular feedback and appropriate oversight. In my professional practice, I regularly review associate lawyers and professional staff and I am comfortable delivering both positive feedback and honest and constructive criticism when needed.
We have to remember that the superintendent is a hired professional to run our school system. He or she should be willing to listen to our community for all kinds of feedback. In our data-centric world, we can collect data on how the schools are performing, and use data to justify our evaluation and feedback. Even in a public setting, as long as we are polite and speaking to facts, I would expect the superintendent to listen and properly respond to the school committee.