Committee to vote on Berman's contract extension

CARL RUSSO/Staff photoAndover School Superintendent Sheldon Berman

The School Committee will vote on an extension of Superintendent Sheldon Berman's contract this week.

Berman's four-year contract, which was unanimously approved by the committee in 2015, goes through June 30, 2020. The contract was an extension of his one-year pact as interim superintendent.

The meeting Thursday, Aug. 1, will begin after a closed-door executive session at 6 p.m.

At Berman's annual review last month, the committee gave him a "proficient" rating with a "high" impact on student learning, accompanied by a 2% raise. The review shortly followed protests against Berman, accompanied by vocal parents who wanted him ousted from the superintendent's job.

The School Committee commended Berman for his work approach that focuses on every aspect of each student in the Andover School District, not solely textbook learning and test scores, and his focus on social-emotional learning and mental health work.

Berman was also praised for the recent hiring of a communications director, which the committee said alleviated some of Berman’s duties and allowed him to focus on his main responsibilities.

The composite summary, given by Chair Joel Blumstein on the committee’s behalf, stated the district has moved forward under Berman’s steady leadership, and that his work emphasizes a well-rounded education, as well as a commitment to reaching all students.

Berman's raise following his review brought his annual salary to $232,321.

At the end of his review, Berman said he needs to continue to learn and grow, like everyone else.

His four years in the district have not been flawless, but the only committee member to touch upon past controversies was Paul Murphy. He noted there were clearly fewer bad public relations moments for Berman in this year than in the past.

The most recent controversy came in May, when parents outraged over the recent firing of boys varsity hockey coach Chris Kuchar protested across the street from Andover High School with signs saying "Shelley Must Go!"

Parents have also flooded social media sites like Facebook with comments about their feelings toward the superintendent, and their views that his contract should not be extended.

"I'm struggling and I continue to struggle with the disconnect between what I see and perceive and what other parents and other people in the community see and perceive," Murphy said at the meeting last month.

The Aug. 1 meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the School Committee room on the second floor of the school administration building.

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