To say that school leaders face pressure and critique from the communities they serve would be an understatement. Throw a pandemic, mental health crisis and financial pressures into the mix, and overseeing Concord’s Schools has been no small feat for Superintendent Laurie Hunter as of late.
Concord School Committee members thanked and applauded Hunter for her leadership while presenting results of a biennial superintendent evaluation report at their April 25 meeting.
“Managing an organization through tumultuous times is not always easy and you did it with a tremendous amount of level-headedness and calm and poise … [you] were the shepherd through that storm,” Concord Public School Committee Chair Alexa Anderson said.
The evaluation measured Hunter’s performance in fiscal years 22-23 based on feedback collected monthly at committee meetings. Hunter received a “proficient” rating in the categories of Instructional Leadership, Management and Operations and Professional Culture.
“I would simply offer up that proficiency is a very high bar,” committee member Courtland Booth said, explaining that Hunter had to meet “robust” goals to earn the rating. “I don’t want anybody to minimize what that means,” he added.
Hunter earned a standout, “exemplary” rating in the Family and Community Engagement category.
“Communication and engagement is where Dr. Hunter truly sets herself apart as a leader,” the report reads, “she is widely respected across the Concord, Carlisle and Boston communities. She has worked tirelessly to build strong relationships with families and key stakeholders across the communities.”
The report referenced Hunter’s efforts to strengthen special education services and social-emotional learning programs, her support of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging goals, and her responsiveness to feedback from METCO families. She was commended for building a “stable infrastructure” of school leaders and administrators and for her “exceptional” work with students at the emergency homeless shelter who entered the district earlier this year.
The report also acknowledged recent friction with the town’s Finance Committee over Concord Public Schools’ budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Budgetary issues are straining relationships with [elected] Town officials and a growing number of community members who are not parents of school-age children; this is setting up the district and the towns for more difficult fiscal pressures in the near future,” the report reads.
Yet Hunter was also commended for prioritizing and advocating for students’ needs amid such pressure: “This can put the schools in conflict with the town but we both have unique perspectives and needs,” the report said.The full superintendent evaluation report can be accessed through the School Committee’s April 25 meeting agenda, available at Concordma.gov.