Olsen Praised During Yearly Evaluation
Westford Public School superintendent Bill Olsen was given significant praise from the Westford School Committee during almost all of his job performance and yearly goal evaluations on Monday night.
The Westford School Committee assessed the performance of Superintendent Bill Olsen in five separate job performance areas, giving the rating of “exceptional” in 14 of the 35 total grades given by the seven members.
While several members of the Committee stated that they were reluctant to give the “exceptional” grade out lightly, the opinions of the Committee on Olsen’s job performance were almost entirely positive both in the areas considered “exceptional” as well as those considered to be doing “proficient”, which was defined as doing a good job, and where he was graded as “needing improvement.”
In return, Olsen consistently deflected praise to members of the School Committee along with teachers, administrators and other staff within Westford’s Public Schools.
People in (the Superindentent’s) office, the principals, the teaching staff, just do an outstanding job,” said Olsen. “They’re the real heroes day in and day out.”
Olsen only received one “needs improvement” during the job performance evaluation, and it was a mixed with a “proficient” grade in the Professionalism section from School Committee member Margaret Murray, who showed concerns about data provided to the School Committee in areas such as staff turnover, expulsion and suspension data and other area that she mentioned would help give the committee a broader overall understanding of topics within the district.
Data also proved to be a topic in need of some improvement in two of three goals set for Olsen in the second part of the evaluation process, with four of the 21 total grades in the goals portion of the evaluation indicating a need for improvement.
However, even there School Committee members believed that much of the improvement needed was due to the fact that the goals were not likely to have been accomplished in only one year, and that a mid-year analysis would better calibrate end-of-the-year expectations on goals and overall job performance.
At times, the evaluation process itself was scrutinized as members questioned whether objective grades could be given to what was perceived as subjective topics and whether the grade fully described the extent of Olsen’s job performance and progress in yearly goals.
In addition to providing feedback on the superintendent’s job performance, the evaluation is also a part of determining yearly bonuses under Olsen’s current contract. However, reiterated that he would accept no bonus this year due to the current fiscal struggles faced by the town.
Olsen’s contract is set to expire within the next several weeks, with School Committee chairwoman Angela Harkness and School Committee member Arthur Benoit agreeing to form a subcommittee for the purpose of negotiating a new contract.
Information regarding the pending teachers’ union contract was not released outside of news that there will be an informational session on the contract for teachers this Thursday and additional information likely being released to the public on Friday.
Full details of the evaluations can be found in the packets section of the Westford town website.