By Aaron Leibowitz
August 28. 2015 8:12AM
Taymore receives mostly high marks in evaluations
Members of the School Committee submitted their annual evaluations of Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore at a meeting on Aug. 18. All but one was glowing.
Taymore, who has served as superintendent since 2012, received mostly positive marks from the committee, including effusive praise from committee member and mayor Rob Dolan.
But one member — Carrie Kourkoumelis, serving her second four-year term — submitted a scathing, 21-page evaluation in which she rated Taymore’s performance as either “unsatisfactory” or “need[ing] improvement” in all 13 categories.
The five other members present each submitted evaluations between one and four pages long, generally commending Taymore for her leadership and vision. Christine Casatelli was absent and has not yet submitted her evaluation as of press time.
Committee members rated Taymore in the areas of Instructional Leadership, Management & Operations, Family and Community Engagement, and Professional Culture. The form and rubric they filled out was provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“Superintendent Taymore sets and models incredibly high expectations in terms of quality of work, effort, and professionalism,” Dolan wrote, “and this example from the top empowers administrators, educators, and students to follow.”
All except Kourkoumelis spoke highly of Taymore’s budget management, commitment to staff development and forward-thinking approach.
“The range and breadth of work being done in the district to move all children forward is exemplary,” wrote Committee Chair Kristin Thorp. “The Superintendent continues to grow in the area of communication with the public and this year especially, the budget process showed this effort.”
Several members were somewhat more critical of Taymore in the areas of communication and meeting diverse learners’ needs.
“Much work is needed in the areas of cultural proficiency and cultural sensitivity by staff members,” Margaret Driscoll wrote, adding that “better one-way and two-way communication is critical to ensuring that all stakeholders participate in the academic success of students.”
Jessica Dugan agreed that the district could do a better job of two-way communication by giving parents’ voices more clout.
“While the superintendent herself is very responsive in this area, not all members of the team share her commitment to feedback and appropriate response,” Dugan wrote. “She should work to build this culture on her team, so parents can find their voice in expressing concerns.”
Kourkoumelis took an entirely different approach, lamenting a “pervasive culture of low expectations” in the Melrose public schools. Taymore, she said, is too quick to heap praise on administrators and is insincere in presenting data on district performance.
Kourkoumelis said that, while the district has seen improved outcomes in certain areas, such as 10th-grade MCAS proficiency and Advanced Placement scores, “the overall improvements were marginal at best.”
“Results are stagnant for too many of the categories and unacceptably poor in others,” she wrote. “In the SAT, our district has demonstrably lost ground compared with similar districts, like Stoneham and Burlington, as the attached data compilations demonstrate.”
Kourkoumelis also suggested the district goes to great lengths to portray itself positively and is not sufficiently open to criticism.
“The district appears more concerned with manipulating the external public perception of the schools than engaging in two-way communication regarding deficiencies and potential improvement areas,” she wrote.
This approach, Kourkoumelis said, represents the continuation of “a decade-long strategy of isolating and marginalizing parents and students who bring attention to serious issues.”
Kourkoumelis has been Taymore’s toughest critic since day one. In March of 2012, she was the lone committee member who did not support hiring Taymore among five finalists, instead advocating for Dr. James Kelleher.
Thorp will submit a summary of the members’ evaluations at the next School Committee meeting on Sept. 8. Casatelli’s evaluation will be submitted by then.
Meanwhile, Taymore will take a closer look at the performance reviews.
“My practice is, even in negative feedback, I try to find something of value,” Taymore said. “It’s a continuous process of self-reflection, goal-setting and working towards those goals.”
Taymore said she invites committee members to speak with her one-on-one to further discuss their evaluations.
Full evaluations can be found online in the agenda packet for the Aug. 18 meeting at melrosecityma.iqm2.com.
Here's one for her profile. Thank you CKK for telling the truth! UNSATISFACTORY!!!!
Loved the child-like one page double-spaced glowing evaluations offered by Mayor Dolan, Don Constantine, Jessica Duggan, Margaret Driscoll and Chair Thorpe. Honestly, the first drafts must have been in crayon. How about supporting your bogus reviews with facts and data? Oops, sorry, I forgot there ARE no facts or data to support your glowing evaluations.
A simple comparison of these evaluations should be enough to tell you about a true lack of performance by Superintendent Taymore. Read all the others first then read CKK's and that should be enough to convince anyone that the other ones are fluff and not worth the paper they wrote them on! I guess one thing about this situation - after Melrose - Taymore will retire which will eliminate the chance of her negatively affecting other school districts! Next in line - Margaret Adams - this is getting down right scary!