Letter to the editor in Lowell Sun, 09-Sept-07
Shedding light on school hiring
Finally, we can put to rest the unfounded accusations that the Lowell School District does not promote from within or hire residents for key jobs in our schools. At last week’s school committee meeting, the superintendent presented a “Personnel Report on Hiring Practices” that showed 66% of all those hired for administrative positions over the last seven years have been promoted from within, 33% of the new hires live in Lowell, and 38% were raised here.
The report was in response to a motion I made at the August 16th school committee meeting to get the facts about the district’s hiring practices once and for all. Tired of listening to rumors on local radio shows or more recently, reading accusations from a school committee challenger (See Sun story August 1), I felt it was time to set the record straight with facts, as well as get information important to know going forward.
The report includes a listing of the 82 individuals hired as administrators since 2000 and indicates not only whether they were promoted from within, but also whether they live or were raised in Lowell. The Central Office category is staff, such as deputy and assistant superintendent positions, who report directly to Superintendent Karla Brooks Baehr. Other administrative positions include directors, coordinators, and managers who typically handle programs on a district-wide basis. At Lowell High School, administrators include house masters, department chairs, directors, and coordinators. See the chart below for a percentage breakdown of the report by administrative category:
The report supports what the superintendent has been saying all along: “We are committed to selecting the candidate who best matches the requirements and needs of the position being filled…We are also committed to developing and recognizing the skills and knowledge of Lowell educators who wish to pursue administrative positions.”
This commitment is shared by the Lowell School Committee, who has, despite tough fiscal times, consistently earmarked funding for professional development, administrative apprentice and paraprofessional advancement programs. For instance, the advancement programs enabled 30 paraprofessionals to achieve the required education and licensure to become special education teachers in our schools. We are committed to these programs because they make sense for the district and its staff.
And while we always strive to do better, whether with professional development or choosing the right person for the job, we will not deviate from our commitment to hire the absolute best candidates to educate our children. Anything less would be a disservice to ourselves and the families we serve.
Jackie Doherty is a member of the Lowell School Committee and can be reached at www.jackiedoherty.org.