By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — The School Committee began the process of evaluating Superintendent James Scully last night and set June as the deadline for completing it.
But even as the process begins, several members signaled how they expect it to end — with an offer to extend Scully’s contract for several more years leading the district.
“I think he’s done a great job, but I’m worried our road to success will be pushed back if we don’t have stability and continuity,” Committee member Joseph Bevilacqua said. “I’m confident we will all report back that we’ve had a successful superintendent, and I want it to continue.”
Other committee members offered a similarly glowing assessment of Scully’s performance and credited him for a wide variety of changes and improvements in the school system. They include improved MCAS scores, an expanded full-day kindergarten program and a revitalized high school athletic program.
A former Lawrence superintendent and Consentino School principal in Haverhill, Scully came out of retirement in 2010 to serve as Haverhill’s interim superintendent and was given the permanent job six months later. His contract expires after the 2013-14 school year.
Committee members Shaun Toohey and Scott Wood, who are each in their 10th year on the committee, said the district lacked consistent direction and leadership for many years under a series of short-term superintendents before Scully took over.
“We have a person in charge now who has demonstrated a commitment to the district and the children,” Toohey said. “I’m hopeful he sticks around for a while longer.”
Wood praised Scully for reducing sports participation fees and putting polices in place that have led to cleaner and better maintained school buildings.
“I’ve been tough on superintendents in the past,” Wood said. “But I’m confident in Superintendent Scully and proud to have him as superintendent. He’s put in place a great leadership team and has brought accountability to everyone from principals to teachers to custodians. I hope we can find a way to extend and keep him as long as he will stay.”
Scully has not said whether he wants a contract extension.
“My job is to set the system up for continued success for when I leave,” he said last night.
Paul Magliocchetti, the committee president, asked his colleagues to return to him by May lengthy evaluation forms that will be used to rate Scully in dozens of areas based on new state guidelines. Magliocchetti said he will then consolidate the individual evaluations into a final report.
Magliochetti, who also heaped praise on the superintendent, said parent involvement in the school system has been better under Scully’s watch than it’s been in many years.