Board of Education Recap: Superintendent Evaluation, Last Meeting for Gary Blough and Jessica Curtis

On Monday night, the last Board of Education meeting of the year was held in the Lowell Area Schools administration building. President Brian Krajewski was absent so Vice President Laurie Kuna brought the meeting to order at 7 pm.

Thank you to our advertisers.

Superintendent Evaluation

As school boards are required to evaluate their superintendent’s job performance annually, the meeting started off with Secretary Pat Nugent presenting Superintendent Nate Fowler’s evaluation for the 2021-2022 school year. The presentation listed out the scoring system for rating Fowler’s performance, which goes as follows:

1- Ineffective

2- Minimally effective

3- Effective

4- Highly effective

The superintendent’s score is rated in these main categories:

  • Governance and board relations
  • Business and Finance
  • Instructional leadership
  • Community relations
  • Staff relations

Fowler scored between a 3 (effective) and 4 (highly effective) on all items, for an overall score of 3.65 out of 4. That translates to 86%, which is up 3% from last year’s scoring, and put him in the “effective” category. Nugent explained that in the two years he has served as superintendent, Fowler has exhibited “steady growth in many areas.”

The evaluation was accepted unanimously by the board, and Fowler thanked the board for their constructive feedback. He said that he looks forward to working with the board to help the district achieve all of their goals going forward.

Construction bids

Before the board were three construction project bids for 2023: replacing Murray Lake Elementary School’s boiler, upgrading and replacing the high school stadium lighting, and fixing the high school parking lot lights. The total cost of all three projects is estimated at $1.4 million. Fowler emphasized that these were all repairs and replacements that needed to happen sooner rather than later. He also said that the district received numerous bids for the work, allowing for a good deal on all of the construction projects.

The board approved the bids for all three construction projects unanimously.

Public Comments

Tom Stahr, former LAS teacher and athletic director, stood to express his gratitude to the board. He joked that it had probably been at least a few decades since he last attended a board of education meeting, but that he came specifically to applaud the board for a job well done. He said that serving on the board “…is not an easy job, you have to have tough skin and the patience of an angel.” He spoke to the incoming board members, Jennifer Dougherty and Jared Blough, who were both in the audience, and told them that he wanted to challenge them to keep up the good work that the current board has been doing.

Stefanie Boone, a parent with children attending LAS, stood to give board members a handout she’d prepared which she said listed “40 worst of the worst” books found in school libraries. Details of the rating system used to identify the books on the list were not shared. According to Boone, LAS libraries contained 15 of these titles, but she thought someone had been “…quietly pulling these books from the library and then making me look like a liar.”

Superintendent’s Report

During his report, Fowler answered public comments regarding the pulled school library books directly. He said that the topic had been addressed at the last meeting, at which time it had been explained that many books were weeded out every year if they had not been checked out in many years. He said he wasn’t sure if this was the reason the specific titles Boone had referenced were unavailable but that he would look into it and follow up with her directly.

Fowler said that the second trimester was off to a good start with some holiday-themed fun. He thanked staff and students for their patience as they had to deal with slow internet speeds but that the problem should be resolved. Emma Sage, student council representative, agreed that the internet problems seemed to have abated.

Fowler also mentioned the uptick in student and staff illness of late but said that when he reflected on where the district is now relative to the last two years, it seemed like the schools were in a much better place now.

Fowler also said that the district had been working on school safety and security, and specifically building and classroom security in the face of emergencies. He said that he should have further updates for the board in the new year.

In closing, Fowler expressed his gratitude to board members Gary Blough and Jessica Curtis, who will both be leaving the board in the new year, for their hard work and service. He thanked Blough specifically for his thoughtfulness and ability to consider all sides and said that Curtis was “…the definition of service, looking out for all kids.”

He wished everyone happy holidays and a happy new year.

Board Comments

All of the board members echoed the appreciation and thanks for Curtis and Blough.

Blough read from notes and said that retiring from the board was bittersweet and that he couldn’t believe it had been twelve and a half years since he attended his first Board of Education meeting. He said best wishes to the incoming members and thanked the board, as well as his wife, for their support throughout the years.

Curtis thanked board members for “…showing me the ropes” and thanked all of the teachers and administration. She said that she was proud to be an LAS grad and proud that her children attend Lowell schools as well.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:56 pm. The next regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for January 9, 2023, at 7 pm in the administrative building.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.