EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 20, 2013

Methuen hires four deans to oversee discipline

By Douglas Moser

---- — METHUEN — Four new deans of students have taken over some discipline duties at the city’s grammar schools to allow associate principals to shift their emphasis to the new teacher assessment system.

One of the deans, Paula Simone, was hired from within, and all started this school year. Funding for the administrative positions was included in the current fiscal year budget, which included an expansion of programs like foreign language and tutors. One was hired for each of the four grammar schools.

“They’re all seasoned educators,” Superintendent Judith Scannell said. “We’re very fortunate to bring them on board.”

Scannell and other school officials said the deans’ main purpose is to take over student discipline management duties from associate principals who are now responsible for a large part of the new teacher evaluation system, which includes regular in-class visits.

Grammar schools’ administrations consist of a supervising principal for the entire building, an associate principal who oversees kindergarten through grade three and an associate principal who oversees grades four through eight. The associate principals previously were responsible for, among other things, student discipline.

A dean in each grammar school will be at the center of the new student disciplinary process. “The student discipline process will be streamlined, with one staff member who will be responsible for following through with day-to-day management,” Scannell said.

The deans also will be a liaison between teachers, students and parents in dealing with student issues, including time-intensive investigations into bullying.

Simone is assigned to Comprehensive Grammar School and earns $89,701 annually. Scannell said her salary is higher because of her nearly 20 years with the school system.

Brendan Parker is Marsh Grammar School’s dean, earning $82,870, Carl DeRubeis is at Tenney Grammar School earning $82,870, and Kerry Defilippo-Calobrisi is at Timony Grammar School, earning $77,918.

School Committee member Mary Jean Fawcett, a former teacher and principal in Methuen, said she supported the new positions because three administrators would not be able to handle the work load of discipline, parent interactions and the new evaluations in buildings with 1,400 students.

“It’s absolutely necessary. We worry because we don’t want to load up our administrative level. We don’t want the administrative team to be top heavy, but it’s not doing that in any way, shape or form,” she said.

Member Robert Vogler, also a former teacher, said he questioned the need for the deans and was satisfied with the superintendent’s answer. “Judy gave me an explanation, and I understand why with the new evaluation system,” he said. “This new evaluation system is very intensive.”

The new teacher evaluations will have associate principals making classroom visits on a daily basis, Scannell said. They will write evaluations and the end of the year and review them with the teachers. Measures for evaluation include the classroom visits, student MCAS scores and improvement on scores. Reviews include the creation of goals for teachers.

The administration and the Methuen Education Association agreed in May on the new system, which was created to comply with new state regulations. The evaluations are on three-year cycles.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.