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Superintendent grades herself ‘effective,’ but more needed for Boston kids

Following the end of her first school year on the job, BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper rated her overall job performance as “effective” and emphasized the extensive planning for the district in a self-evaluation.

“I do want to be clear there’s a lot of work ahead,” Skipper said this week. “When I came into this role I knew that, and everybody that walks through the door for a job, we make sure they know that. This is about making a commitment to building this district in a sustainable way that meets the needs of our kids for now and into the future.”

Skipper rated her performance in four categories: instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community engagement and professional culture. The superintendent gave herself “effective” ratings across the board, the second highest rating on a scale from “highly effective” to “ineffective.”

The self-evaluation will be followed by evaluations from each of the school committee members to be delivered at a meeting in August.

Skipper highlighted a number of achievements over the last year in each category, citing figures like a 5% increase in multilingual learners receiving appropriate English instruction, increasing students in early college programs from 290 to 740 and settling all 18 outstanding labor contracts.

The Council of Great City School recommendations delivered across the last year, which focused on safety, transportation and special education, and the state benchmarks to avoid receivership also came up through the report.

After a tumultuous year for transportation — with the district struggling to meet the state’s mandated on-time performance rate and a state investigation finding the bus performance violated special education students’ civil rights — Skipper noted the district has filled all bus driver positions for the first time since the pandemic began, is able to staff at least one monitor on every bus that requires one and added financial incentives and penalties into their new transportation contract.

In the coming years, Skipper cited many plans and priorities, from new mergers and infrastructure to safety and mental health measures, to building community outreach and trust.

A particular key priority area, she answered a committee member’s question, is developing inclusive education, which is “increasing least restrictive access rate for environment for those with disabilities” and “increasing the ability for multilingual learners to have access to native language.”

“Those two things in our vision of setting up inclusive education, touches so many parts of our systems,” Skipper said, noting the areas of enrollment, IEPs, transportation, communication and more. … “That just alone really is kind of an umbrella priority area. And so that will be a lot of what I will continue to pay attention to this coming year.”

Committee members asked the superintendent a broad number of clarifying questions, but generally reserved their evaluation and feedback for the later presentation.

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