Comments flesh out story as super to retire in 2 years

UPDATED, Nov. 22: In an unusually short meeting Nov. 14, the School Committee heard and commented on the report evaluating Superintendent Kathleen Bodie as proficient, the rating she received last year. She plans to retire in two years.

School Committee logo

Chair Len Kardon introduced the evaluation of the superintendent for the 2018-19 school year, referred to as the Summative Evaluation Report, by calling it effort “one of the core responsibilities of the School Committee.”

The form adapted for the evaluation is a new one suggested by the state, which he had to admit was “not the greatest form but [we] managed it make it work.” He said the committee has made the form more useful by improving goal-setting and in deciding what is measurable. Such reports are used over the course of the year, not just when the evaluation takes place.

Kardon said that, overall, Bodie had been evaluated as proficient. The other categories are unsatisfactory, needs improvement and exemplary. Five committee members rated her overall performance as proficient, and two as exemplary.

Read the complete results with members' comments >> 

After announcing the overall score, Kardon presented the data from some of the subcategories. First, he introduced the Professional Practice Goal, which included a new requirement for the superintendent to visit each school at least three times during the school year. On the individual evaluations, Kardon said the members were divided -- two reported some progress, two significant progress, two met goal, one exceeded goal.

The second category, was the Student-Learning Goal. The full evaluation of the superintendent was delayed until this fall so that the MCAS results would be available to be used in this part. This section also evaluated steps to improve social and emotional learning. All seven members said she met this goal.

For the third category, the District Improvement Goal, four members said Bodie met this goal, and one member graded Bodie as exceeding this goal.

The second part of the evaluation focused on three other areas, and the results were: Instrumental Leadership (one needs improvement, five proficient, one exemplary), Management and Operation (six proficient, one exemplary), and Family and Community Engagement (two needs improvement, three proficient, two exemplary), and Professional Culture (six proficient, one exemplary).

3 read some comments

Kardon then asked whether committee members wanted to read their submitted comments. Jennifer Susse, Jeff Thielman and Paul Schlichtman contributed a partial reading of their written comments.

Susse praised Bodie for being “an attentive, competent, administrator.” In particular, she liked her “leadership style,” which allowed her to work well with others. Susse noted Bodie’s inclusion in the handbook “a thoughtful entry for new teachers” and her work on programs for social and emotional learning.

Thielman, who is chair of the Arlington High School Rebuild Committee, stressed Bodie’s positive contributions to the work of that committee. He noted that she attended almost all committee meetings. He also cited her contributions to the five-year budget plan.
Schlichtman first praised her leadership in the passage of the debt exclusion and override. He then spoke of her leadership in developing the new high school which will define Arlington for several decades.

As directed by state regulations, Kardon called for the committee to vote to adopt the evaluation report, and it passed unanimously.

Bodie responded by expressing her appreciation and stating that she was looking forward to working together with the committee over the next two years.

2018-19 budget up 7%, Out-of-District tuition down 9%

The committee received the final report for fiscal 2019, honored the graduates of the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity and the winners of the sixth-grade contest for vaping calendars. 

Near the end of the meeting, the committee informally decided that the start day for next September would continue to be the day after Labor Day.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Mason presented his final summary for the fiscal year, July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, to be submitted to the state. It includes all expenditure data from all funding sources (town appropriations, municipal spending, federal and state grants, and revolving and special funds). Mason also added a three-year chart (2017, 2018, 2019) to allow for analyzing trends.  

See the summary, chart >>

Mason reported that the total of all expenditures for fiscal 2018-19 was $103,158,433.16. This amount represented an increase of $6,796,161.16, or 7.05 percent over the prior year. The town appropriation was $66,005,785, representing an increase of $4,999,276, or 8.19 percent over the prior year.

He created a separate category for town expenditures on such items as health insurance, retirement, regional school assessment, debt service and both direct and indirect costs from other town departments for services rendered. The amount for town expenditures totaled $26,077,254, an increase of 6.15 percent over the prior year.

Costs, universal health care

Schlichtman asked for a further breakdowns on medical costs. He referred to the current political debate on Medicare for All and thought it might be of some interest to the School Committee to anticipate how this program may reduce health-care expenses, which are about 9 percent of the school expenditures.

Mason suggested some expenses were fixed, such as nurses in every school. Current health-care expenses included physical therapy and occupational therapy services.  Schlichtman asked for the spreadsheets, so he could begin to break down the expenses to determine which ones might covered by a potential universal insurance program.

Examining the expenditures over three years, Kardon noted that the tuition costs for out-of-district private school costs were down by 9 percent. He attributed this reduction to the increased capacity of the school system to accommodate more special-education students within the school system.

Start date Sept. 8 for now

During the report of the calendar committee, Kardon brought up concerns of parents about a late Labor Day next year, which would mean a late date for beginning the school year. Starting this late in September would mean the schools would have to run until June 29. That would fulfill the state requirement for being in session for 180 days and include five snows days.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Bodie said: “At the moment, my understanding, our collective understanding, is that we are going to have a regular start day next year." The start day has always been the day after Labor Day, as stipulated in the collective-bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union, the Arlington Education Association (AEA).

Bodie expressed concerns about the potential for snow days pushing the school year beyond June 29, 2021. With the late start date, she warned everyone “to understand that it will be a late June.”

To change the start date, Bodie said, the AEA would have to agree and this agreement would have to go through the process of ratification.  Moreover, since this is a contract year with the AEA, collective bargaining would occur in the spring, much too late to change the school calendar, which needs to be set in December.

Although the committee might discuss the start date after Bodie has more informal meetings with the AEA, it became increasingly clear that changing the start date would have to wait for another year.

Bob Spiegel, director of human resources, responded, “It would be a real challenge to get the contract ratified by that time.”  Committee member Jane Morgan expressed her discomfort in having the start date discussed “back and forth now and leaving the community hanging.”

In other business, the committee heard a presentation by Sarah Burd about the Trauma Sensitivity Course and the awards to the graduates, the sixth-grade contest winners of the vaping calendar contest and the superintendent’s update on the construction of the new high school.

The committee voted to adjourn at 8:20 p.m. for an executive session.

June 19, 2019: Bodie accepts new contract after 4-3 vote, to retire in 2 years

Nov. 21, 2018: Committee OKs new CFO, finds Bodie proficient overall

This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Jo Anne Preston was published Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. The editor updated the copy Nov. 22, to clarify his error and to report the number of days in session plus five snow days.