GROTON — A year after he was hired, it appears Superintendent of Schools Joseph Mastrocola has won over the appreciation of most people in the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.
Not the least among them are his employers on the School Committee.
Expressions of appreciation for all Mastrocola has done so far dominated a special meeting of the School Committee on April 27. Members went through questionnaires filled out by individual members and to compile results into a single evaluative document.
“I couldn’t be happier with his relations with the School Committee,” said Committee member Jon Sjoberg of Mastrocola’s approach to his duties. “He’s done an excellent job in keeping the School Committee informed.”
Mastrocola was assistant superintendent for Peabody schools before being chosen by the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee to replace Alan Genovese.
Mastrocola took over the job on July 1, 2010. The evaluation process conducted last week was the superintendent’s first annual review.
Sjoberg echoed fellow committee members’ feelings when he expressed admiration for Mastrocola, saying he succeeded even after stepping into a situation in the district that was characterized as being less than satisfactory.
Under such conditions, the new superintendent nevertheless managed to fashion a budget for the district that saved money instead of demanding more from the public while having himself wholeheartedly accepted at all levels in the community.
Divided into two sections, the questionnaires covered performance standards and how well the superintendent met goals.
The word most often used in the group’s final evaluation was “excellent.”
Committee members cited the superintendent’s good judgment in hiring Gerry Martin as the district’s new director of business and finance.
Mastrocola began his professional career as a special-education teacher before moving into administration. He rose to assistant superintendent of schools in Peabody in 2007. He earned a degree in school administration from Salem State College, where he also received a bachelor’s degree in political science and business.
Regarding goals and personal performance standards, the committee’s evaluation of Mastrocola was somewhat muted with many more “not applicables” attached to such categories as instruction, organization and management.
For instance, under the goal of initiating an early-retirement incentive for district employees, it was noted that although Mastrocola had drawn up a plan, initiatives for its implementation had not yet been submitted to the School Committee.
A similar situation prevailed with the goal of improving communication with parents, students and staff. The committee noted that the superintendent had received only praise from parents and town officials but that particular efforts at communication such as building a website fell somewhat short.
Lack of specifics in the development of a five-year plan also prevented Mastrocola from racking up points in the short term, although committee members were inclined to cut him some slack due to the dismal conditions he inherited.
Taken in that light, progress was deemed “adequate,” given the starting point at which Mastrocola had to begin. In conclusion, committee members lauded what efforts had been made, seeing that at least an “excellent five-year platform” had been established.
However, it was understood that too much may have been expected from a superintendent who was not only new to the job but who has had to deal with a situation in the district that was muddled at the very least.
For instance, School Committee members were inclined to call Mastrocola’s efforts at planning, preparation, management and execution of a number of audits performed in the district over the past year as “flawless,” even in the face of turnover of major positions in the administration.
Mastrocola was also complimented on his creation of a 10-point action plan designed to tackle the new realities governing collective bargaining with unions. There, committee members described the plan as “comprehensive and well thought out” with the superintendent showing “excellent diligence starting with his first arrival in the district.”
Furthermore, Mastrocola was cited as providing a thorough explanation of the 10-point plan and showed “an excellent grasp of contract negotiations despite being new to the district.”
Finally, Mastrocola scored high for professional attributes, which were gauged as being more than satisfactory.