Committee Chair Discusses Surprising Contract Extension for Mashpee School Superintendent
By: Geoff Spillane, January 17, 2014
With the possible exception of the New England Patriots’ playoff run, the talk of the town during the past week has been the Mashpee School Committee. In particular, its unexpected three-year extension of Superintendent Brian A. Hyde’s contract after only six months on the job, and with no tangible data that sub-par district performance had improved during his 161 days at the helm.
When appointed in May, Mr. Hyde was given a two-year contract.
On Wednesday, school committee chairman Scott P. McGee explained the rationale behind the decision to extend Mr. Hyde’s contract to 2018, and it is all about having enough time to execute effective strategies to “right a listing ship.” In September, low MCAS math scores at the Mashpee Middle School downgraded the entire school system to Level 3 status, a low-performance metric designation that triggers state intervention.
While Mr. McGee admitted that it was natural for some people to think it was too early for a contract extension, he only received two direct, unfavorable comments about the issue.
“Two years is not enough time to bring this district into high-performing level status. It’s hard to make a lot of serious changes and implement new initiatives when you only have a two-year contract. How can you hand Brian the reins and say that you only have them for two years. It was the will of the board to extend the contract,” he said.
When asked why the contract extension was for three years, and not for one, Mr. McGee said that a motion to that effect had been made when the extension was first discussed in December, and by the time the vote got to him the outcome had already been decided.
“If it was up to me, I would have extended the contract by one year, and continued to do it on an incremental basis as needed,” Mr. McGee said. Last week, Mr. McGee vigorously defended the commitee’s decision, saying that if he could have, he would have extended Mr. Hyde’s contract to the maximum of six years.
Mr. McGee said that he is looking forward to Mr. Hyde putting the right programs and people in place, as well as implementing a new mathematics curriculum.
“I told him face-to-face that I expect those MCAS scores to be reflective of his efforts over the course of the next few years,” he added.
Mr. McGee also wanted to quash rumors circulating around the school system that Mr. Hyde is planning a series of mass firings. “The rumors are unfounded and ridiculous. He just wants to find out what people are good at and put them in that spot,” he said.
There was also concern expressed among town leaders that a bad precedent was set by the school committee, and that other department heads that would likely request five-year contracts. Mashpee Town Manager Joyce M. Mason, though, dismisses this concern, saying that it should not have any effect on future contract negotiations, especially union positions, since organized labor does not like to lock itself into a contract as long as five years.
“Brian has shown that he is effective and I have full faith and confidence in him. He will turn this district into a shining star on Cape Cod,” Mr. McGee said.
Mr. McGee also confirmed this week that he will be running for reelection to the school committee in May.