News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 28, 2014
Teacher evaluation plan approved for pilot year

by Anne Berleant

The school board wrapped up summer business with a brief meeting on August 7, unanimously approving a pilot of a teacher evaluation plan.

A committee of Union 93 teachers and administrators facilitated by former curriculum coordinator Rachel Kohrman Ramos (now with the Ellsworth School District) recommended a plan in use by the Lewiston School District based on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“Under state law, we have to adopt a new teacher evaluation plan,” said Superintendent Mark Hurvitt.

The program’s key features, according to the Lewiston model, are to provide support and regular training to teachers and administrators in the evaluation process; allow administrators to provide ongoing, concrete feedback to teachers about their performance based on a clear performance rubric; incorporate student growth as measured by objective assessments; include teacher created and approved student learning objectives; and include a peer observation process to foster collaboration and reflection.

The model was recommended unanimously by the committee, Ramos had said to union school boards at earlier meetings, and will be fine-tuned throughout the pilot year.

In other business, member Joe Spinazola updated the board on the “carryover issue.” The town has $270,000 of school money in a town account, accrued from funds remaining in the school budget at the end of previous fiscal years (called “carryover” or “carry-forward” money), resulting from a change in the fiscal year and a difference in how the school and the auditors account for funds left at the fiscal year’s end.

The decision is to have the auditor provide a “written recommendation to rectify” the issue, Spinazola said. “The money’s in the town coffers…but not showing in our budget.”

When contacted, town financial officer Karen Motycka said she is waiting for a letter from auditors Foster & Black with their recommendation and did not want to comment further.

Speech teacher Julie O’Neill, who retired from Union 93 in June, is returning to Adams School this fall. She will have fulfilled the state-required 30 days break of service after retirement and, as before, will work one day per week at the school.

“The law is flawed,” Spinazola commented.

In coaching appointments, the board approved Bill Schubeck for jazz band, Katrina Dagan as Athletic Director, and Cameron Ware as soccer coach pending his application and fingerprinting (which he submitted, but it cannot be found at the central office). Ware is assistant soccer coach at Maine Maritime Academy. Interviews for a new school nurse are under way.

The central office has hired Vernette Bannister of Brooksville as executive secretary, filling a position left vacant since June. Interviews for a new curriculum coordinator are scheduled for later this month.

Principal Katie Frothingham informed the board that the Castine Historical Society has donated the $238 proceeds of a recent performance to the school’s theater department.

“That’s very kind of them,” said member Temple Blackwood.

The board declined to create board goals for the upcoming year, with Chairman Kathryn MacArthur stating that “The development of a long-range plan for Adams School is an evolving plan and should stay that way.” The board agreed to table the agenda item until next month and to include as a standing agenda item the idea of allowing nonresident children of MMA employees to attend the school.

“I think it should be an ongoing discussion,” said MacArthur.

Finally, unused chalkboards owned by the school are looking for a home. “Come and get it,” said Spinazola.

Upcoming meeting

Wednesday, September 3, 5 p.m., school.