Superintendent Dede Galdston received high marks from the School Committee, especially for handling the return of students to school in the pandemic, during her annual performance evaluation.
The School Committee announced the results of the annual performance review for the head of the Watertown Public Schools on Aug. 2. Six of the seven members of the School Committee gave Galdston the highest rating in overall performance, and all seven gave her top marks on the reopening of schools after being closed for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marks in some other areas, including equity for students and the budget, did not come in as high, but still came in largely positive.
School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read said she was very happy with how Galdston handled a very tough year.
“I just want to say thank you,” Rayman-Read said. “It has been a heck of a year, and we would not be where we are, in such a good position as we are, without the leadership of you and your team. Dr. Galdston always reminds us it’s a team effort.”
Town Council President and School Committee member Mark Sideris added:
“I also echo my thanks publicly here to Dr. Galston, her staff, the teachers, and everyone who has a hand in it. It is a team effort, but it does start at the top. I think the community appreciated where we ended up and gave the kids the best we could give them during what are unprecedented times.”
The School Committee’s evaluation is based on a combination of the evaluations made by each member of the School Committee. Galston received ratings on the progress made toward meeting six goals agreed upon by herself and the School Committee. She was also rated on her performance on meeting standards set by the state and an overall performance evaluation. The composite evaluation, which includes some quotes from the individual evaluations (without attribution) can be seen here. School Committee Chair John Portz said the individual evaluations can be requested by contacting the Superintendent’s office, firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-926-7700.
In the overall performance evaluation, Galdston received six “Exemplary” ratings and one “Proficient.”
One of the comments from the School Committee said:
“To give Dr. Galdston anything less than exemplary after this year would be a miscalculation. While there is much work to be done in our district, and many areas for improvement, Dr. Galdston’s ethical, compassionate, and daring leadership during a global pandemic kept the entirety of the WPS community safe, while also pushing us towards following our core values. Dr. Galdston’s unwavering leadership throughout the past school year shows a depth of capacity to handle crises as well as a strong commitment to collaboration that she consistently works to improve and include in all decision making with educational staff and school leadership throughout the district.”
The state requires ratings on five standards, with four possible ratings, from low to high, Unsatisfactory, Needs Improvement, Proficient, and Exemplary. The School Committee gave the following ratings:
• Instructional leadership: five proficient, two exemplary
• Management and Operations: seven exemplary
• Family and Community Engagement: four proficient, three exemplary
• Professional Culture: five proficient, two exemplary
Meeting the Goals
All members of the School Committee gave Galdston the highest rating, Exceeded, in the Bridge to Return goal, which was planning to get students back to in-person learning.
One School Committee member wrote:
“Watertown was a flagship district in Massachusetts for reopening — we took a slow, careful approach facilitated by Dr. Galdston and her team, that led to more students being in the building and being able to keep our buildings open and safe than most surrounding districts.”
On the budget, three School Committee members rated her “Significant Progress” (the third highest), and four gave a “Met” rating (the second highest rating).
One School Committee comment wrote:
“Clearly, the pandemic caused all sorts of plans not to be completed by their respective target dates. This goal is one such casualty — again, through no fault of the Superintendent. Instead, I will note that I am grateful for the progress that the Superintendent and the Director of Finance & Operations were able to make under this goal — all while navigating the funding challenges of the pandemic, meeting their annual responsibilities (when not during a pandemic), and managing the additional financial resources that were made available to WPS in a way that maximized their use in order to best serve the students and families of Watertown.”
On the Building for the Future school construction projects including the new high school and three elementary schools, Galdston got five ratings of “Met” and two “Exceeded.”
One member wrote:
“Dr. Galdston demonstrated confidence and proper due diligence on representing Watertown Public Schools in the planning process for our building projects. Her communication and presentations to the community were thorough and timely, updating as the progress of the building projects continued. Her work has been diligent with keeping these projects on time and meeting MSBA guidelines.”
On the goal to create systems and structures to ensure equity and anti-racism, Galdston got two “Some Progress” (fourth highest of five), three “Significant Progress” and two “Met” ratings.
The comment of one School Committee member reads:
“While some of the targets for this goal have been met this year, and others are in progress, I encourage the district to continue to increase their commitment to the initiatives in this goal and add more details and benchmarks (such as a particular percentage goal for recruiting and hiring staff of color, as well planning for retention of staff of color).”
Goal 5 is creating a tiered system of support to ensure all students get the necessary support for reentry after remote learning. One School Committee member gave “Significant Progress,” four rated “Met,” and two gave an “Exceeded” rating.
A School Committee member wrote:
“Dr. Galdston and her MTSS implementation team demonstrated throughout the year that in order to support students and increase achievement, successful school systems plan their District Improvement Strategy efforts collaboratively. Watertown Public Schools MTSS implementation Plan serves as a comprehensive process to organize the work through data analysis, goal setting, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating.”
The final goal was on the implementation of the 2019-22 District Improvement Plan. Two rated her “Significant Progress,” four gave “Met” ratings, and one gave a rating of “Exceeded.”
A comment in the evaluation said:
“This was a particularly challenging year for this goal. The Superintendent did a good job sharing the vision with staff and parents. Work still needs to be done (as has been discussed in the past) to create metrics (or some type of annual report card) to present to the community about the progress being made and the exciting opportunities in the WPS.”