HAVERHILL — School Superintendent James Scully is about to undergo his first formal evaluation since being hired 21/2 years ago.
Scully, 65, a former Lawrence superintendent and Consentino School principal in Haverhill, came out of retirement to serve as Haverhill’s interim superintendent in 2010. Six months later, he was given the permanent job and then a highly debated pay raise from $150,000 to $185,000 per year.
Since then, committee members have praised his performance and credited him for many changes and improvements in the district. They include improved MCAS scores, an expanded full-day kindergarten program and a revitalized high school athletic program.
In an interview yesterday, Scully said he has not decided whether he wants a contract extension.
“I’m happy here, and there are some things I want to follow through on,” he said. “But when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.”
As for the upcoming evaluation, Scully said he is looking forward to it.
“One of my big goals for the district is more accountability for everyone and that includes me,” he said. “So I want to be evaluated.”
School Committee President Paul Magliocchetti said he will begin the evaluation process at tonight’s committee meeting by providing his colleagues with forms that will be used to rate Scully in dozens of areas based on new state guidelines.
The superintendent will be graded exemplary, proficient, satisfactory or unsatisfactory in those areas, Magliocchetti said. Individual evaluations by each of seven committee members will then be consolidated into a final report, Magliocchetti said. The final evaluation is due by the end of the school year in June, he said.
“The final report will also be an evaluation of the school district as a whole, because the superintendent is in charge,” Magliocchetti said. “A big part of it is going to be looking at the goals we set for the district and whether we, as individuals and as a whole, believe he is meeting those goals and our expectations.”
The evaluation is likely to be the key factor in determining whether the School Committee tries to extend Scully’s contract, which expires at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
“We need to decide early next school year if we want to extend (Scully’s contract) or start a search for a new superintendent,” Magliocchetti said.
Scully said that since taking over, he has tried to infuse new energy and optimism about the school district among teachers, administrators and especially parents.
“Parents who have a choice are choosing to send their kids back to us over private schools,” Scully said, noting enrollment in Haverhill public schools is up about 160 students this year over last year.
Asked to identify his biggest accomplishments, Scully said MCAS scores are up 2.5 percent overall, the athletic program is undergoing a revival with greater student participation and several new security measures have been put in place at city schools.
“We have had a tremendous increase in athletics participation in the last year or two and I want to see that continue, which is why we plan to offer girls ice hockey and crew next year,” Scully said. “We have looked at the data and it’s clear that students who play sports have better test scores.”
Improving and tightening security at city schools will continue to be a top priority, Scully said.
“We need to do more to know exactly who is in our buildings and where they are,” he said. “That’s a hard thing to do, but we need to do better, given some of things that have happened across the country.”
In the short term, Scully said he wants to see the district provide a wider variety of academic offerings and courses for students, improve technology and offer more foreign languages at the middle schools. He said he also wants to get more children into the district’s kindergarten and early-childhood programs.
School Committee member Scott Wood said he is not aware of any discussions about extending Scully’s contract, but that he would support it.
“He’s done a tremendous job working within our budget limitations to get a lot of positive things done,” Wood said. “He’s turned around the high school and improved maintenance and cleanliness at all the schools.”
Shortly after Scully was hired as superintendent, he reorganized the cleaning operation by moving several custodians around to different schools.