Haverhill School Committee on Marotta: Budget Well Done, Communication Skills Need Work

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta had her first-year performance review Thursday night, with several School Committee members and Mayor James J. Fiorentini urging her to improve her communication skills with both the community and news media.

Rated on rubric that went from ‘unsatisfactory’ to ‘exemplary,’ Marotta was declared ‘proficient’ by the majority of Committee members in the areas of professional culture and instructional leadership.

Member Sven A. Amirian put Marotta’s last 12 months into perspective, arguing that the former Salem Public Schools employee “inherited a largely dysfunctional school district and weathered the storm admirably” since taking over for James F. Scully in July 2018.

Marotta’s attention to detail on the past year’s budget and attendance numbers were applauded by the Committee, including member Richard J. Rosa. By using data to drive her decision making, Marotta has illustrated her “commitment to high standards.”

“Dr. Marotta has made great strides in making all students and families feel welcome in Haverhill Public Schools. She has led by example in her efforts to foster an environment that shares a commitment to high standards,” Rosa said.

That said, Marotta’s commitment to keeping the public informed needs work, her colleagues admitted.

Member Scott W. Wood Jr. offered a pointed critique when declaring Marotta’s communication skills “the worst he’s seen” in his four terms on the Committee. In addition to improving her relationship with the news media, Wood also hopes Marotta can develop a better bond with the Committee at large.

“The superintendent communicates and has a positive relationship with those who voted for her to become the superintendent of schools,” Wood said. “However, for those who didn’t, communication is minimal. She should understand that School Committee members change with elections: Those that are in the majority today could be in the minority tomorrow. It is beneficial to all that she tries to establish relationships with all to move the district forward as a cohesive unit.”

Marotta took her colleagues’ constructive criticism to heart Thursday and vowed to incorporate their notes into her daily routine.

“I thank you for the feedback and certainly heard some themes throughout all of the evaluations surrounding communication both with the community and with the press, as well as public appearances. I appreciate the feedback and will be working hard to meet those expectations this year,” she said.

The School Committee’s full evaluations are expected to be posted online for public view, Fiorentini said.

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