EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 28, 2013

Andover board gives McGrath glowing review

ANDOVER — While describing the job held by Superintendent Marinel McGrath as nearly “untenable,” the School Committee is singing McGrath’s praises in executing the role while also offering suggestions for how she can improve as leader of the town’s school district.

The committee reviewed McGrath’s performance at their meeting yesterday, during which they said McGrath has taken a school district facing a multitude of issues three years ago into a much more positive direction.

While previous reviews of McGrath also had discussion of a raise attached to them, yesterday’s review didn’t have a bonus tied to it. When asked about a raise for McGrath, School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue said the discussion hasn’t yet taken place but details would be forthcoming.

In his personal comments, Forgue said he often thinks “that, had you known everything you would be walking into three years ago, that you wouldn’t have accepted this job.”

“We’re so far beyond where we were three years ago, and that’s a remarkable accomplishment,” Forgue said. “This was a school system in trouble, going in a bad direction, and it’s now a school system with an enormous amount of potential.”

Committee member Annie Gilbert recalled the hiring process that brought McGrath to Andover, saying that she remembered “as we pulled all that information (about the position) together, feeling that the position is almost untenable, and thinking, ‘How is there anybody who can even do this?’”

Particularly called out on occasion was deliberations for the recent teacher’s union contracts, which started shortly after McGrath was hired in 2010 and continued to a heated end last summer.

“McGrath’s personal integrity, fortitude and determination are absolutely critical to the progress of the district, particularly in the aftermath of last year’s contract negotiations,” Forgue said, reading comments from the entire board. “Accountability in a student-first approach begins at the top, and in this area, we believe Dr. McGrath has shown tremendous strength and leadership by example.”

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