Ypsilanti school superintendent praised in evaluation
Modest gains in student achievement, savings through successful negotiations and shared services, and obtaining a district-wide accreditation were among the accomplishments the Ypsilanti school board highlighted in its favorable review of Superintendent Dedrick Martin.
The Ypsilanti Public Schools Board of Education conducted its annual evaluation of Martin in a closed-door session Sept. 10.
Board members noted the “particularly challenging” financial environment YPS currently is facing and asked for the superintendent to improve in a few areas.
A focus on closing the achievement gap, increasing student achievement and increasing graduation rates — especially among minority populations — was one item identified in the review as needing additional attention.
“The board recommended those efforts include an examination of successful models around the country for evidence-based practices that would be transferable to either our district or a new unified district,” the board report said.
Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools have a proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot that would consolidate the two struggling school districts, both of which are operating with a deficit, to create one new district.
Ypsilanti’s deficit has increased from $4.9 million in 2011 to more than $10 million today, while Willow Run’s deficit has increased from about $1.7 million at the start of 2012 to about $2.4 million.
In light of the fast-approaching election, Ypsilanti board members asked Martin to expand the district’s two-way communication with the public to “define and implement a strong educational program that addresses our achievement challenges with proactive, evidence-based strategies that reflect the values of our community ”
The completion of a strategic plan for Ypsilanti Public Schools was something board members highlighted as another accomplishment of Martin’s. They praised him for including more than 100 staff, students and community members in the process.
“The board looks forward to continuing efforts and to the creation of clear action steps that will realize the community’s priorities and objectives that are reflected in the plan,” the evaluation summary states.
The document goes on to say:
“Board members complimented the superintendent on achieving millions of dollars in savings through negotiations with bargaining units, contractors, departmental restructuring and voluntary administrative salary concessions. The board was happy about the implementation of the high school redesign and noted that achievement at the high school has improved enough to lift the high school from the list of Michigan’s Persistently Low Achieving schools. Growth in student achievement, while not at the rate that the superintendent, the board and the community would like, nonetheless is commendable.”
The board spoke positively of Martin's collaboration with officials at Willow Run, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan Department of Education and state legislators to push forward with the merger proposal and other supports that could help the district during this tough financial time.
Martin's work to increase cooperation across districts also generated approval. The board praised his ability to secure an agreement with Saline Area Schools to provide food service management and with Willow Run to share its transportation facilities.
YPS took a different approach to its superintendent evaluation process this year. The board decided to adopt Ann Arbor Public Schools’ discussion-based method.
In previous years, Ypsilanti board members filed out individual scoring assessments and written comment sheets to be turned in to the district. The board was largely happy with how the new model went.
President David Bates said earlier that the former method of the individual scoring rubric occasionally “caused more problems and friction than the value it contained.”
- Previous coverage: Ypsilanti schools OK new formats for teacher and superintendent evaluations