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School Board Extends Superintendent's Contract, Gives 2.5 Percent Raise

Dr. Lisa Dana again received glowing praise from School Committee members for her leadership and teamwork running the Danvers Public Schools.

Schools Superintendent Lisa Dana's contract was extended for another year and she received a pay raise from the School Committee on Monday.
Schools Superintendent Lisa Dana's contract was extended for another year and she received a pay raise from the School Committee on Monday.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Dana is getting another year on her contract with the Danvers Public Schools along with a $4,000 raise.

The School Committee concluded its annual performance evaluation of Dana on Monday with high praise from board members. They then unanimously agreed to extend her unexpired contract for one more year and give her a 2.54 percent pay raise.

Committee member Jean McCartin said 10 years ago, Dana was a young assistant superintendent who was promoted to lead the district during a challenging time and has grown into an "amazing" and "strong" superintendent. She wouldn't rather have anyone else on the job.

She praised Dana as goal-oriented, data-driven and thoughtful in her approach to issues. She also said Dana is skilled at bringing stakeholders together and building consensus to accomplish goals, which includes transparency with the public on such things as the school budget.

"If you don't know how to bring people together and lead, you won't be successful," McCartin said.

"Would it be inappropriate to say 'Ditto?'" quipped Dave Thomson, who was next up to speak on Dana's evaluation.

He likewise praised Dana for working in such a way to allow her team to "shine" and also collaborating well with other town leaders and her peers in other districts. He said Dan's always open to feedback and willing to listen.

Dana has historically received high marks from the committee. Before Monday, her contract was due to expire June 30, 2017. And adding on the raise, her new annual salary will be $161,500.

Committee member Arthur Skarmeas said the pay raise simply puts Dana right at the median salary range for superintendents in nearby districts or other districts comparable to Danvers. The district has about 3,600 students.

For example, Peabody Superintendent Joe Mastrocola will earn $168,000 now, Salem schools chief Stephen Russell will make $175,000, new Beverly Superintendent Steven Hiersche will be paid $170,000, Masconomet's Darrell Lockwood earns $171,700 and Greg Maass earned $179,000 in Marblehead before he resigned last May.

"We all feel Lisa is doing a very good job in our district," he said. "We want her to stay."

Skarmeas said Dana is paid less than many of her peers and yet has more experience.

Committee Chairman Eric Crane agreed, saying they needed keep abreast of the market for school administrators and try to be equitable.

In regard to the evaluation, Skarmeas thought the new tool and format from state education officials was slightly better than the old version, but he still had problems with it.

"You either do the job or you don't do the job," he said. "The way I looked at this is 'proficient' means you do the job, 'needs improvement' means you don't do the job, 'unsatisfactory' means you shouldn't be here and I don't know what 'exemplary' is."

He just checked off 'proficient' across the board. Skarmeas said he was "queasy" at times at some of Dana's early hires when he joined the committee seven years ago, but she's "really built a strong team."

Skarmeas noted there's always room for growth, but complacency and hidden agendas are not part of Dana's administration.

"I think I can comfortably say your goal is always just to do what's best for the district," he said.

Crane said "exemplary" basically means work that exceeds expectations and should be held up as a regional or state model. "You met everything [goals] and exceeded several things, from my point of view," he said.

One example of that he noted was keeping ahead of state mandates, policies and other programs districts are expected to adopt with well-researched plans and foresight.

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