By Katina Caraganis
TOWNSEND -- North Middlesex Regional School Committee members gave Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers an overall grade of "proficient" on her evaluation, saying they value her high attention to detail, compassion for students, faculty and parents, and her love for the school district.
Chairwoman Susan Robbins applauded Landers, saying she hit the ground running and never blinked when asked to take on lofty goals in her first year as superintendent.
"She's doing a great job of getting to know the district," Robbins said. "Her focus on student achievement is much appreciated. We're fortunate to have her. I'm confident that this time next year, she will be exemplary."
Robbins said she remembers a conversation she had with Landers when she started in the district, and said she was concerned whether Landers was setting her sights too high on accomplishing certain goals.
"I remember Joan saying, 'We don't have a choice. We have to make this happen. It's for the kids,' " Robbins said. "Her ability to obtain goal achievement has exceeded my expectations. As her time in our district increases and as relationships strength, she's poised to have a successful year ahead."
Committee member Ken Brown said Landers was rated "exemplary" in relating to people in the district.
"She has implemented a cultural change that was much needed," Brown said.
Landers also presented her goals moving forward in the district, including maintaining communication between member towns, maximizing the capacity of employees in the central office, maximizing School Committee meetings, and focusing on student achievement and collaboration.
"One thing I do want to say is to commend the district and all three member communities because this is a committee that focuses on student achievement," Landers said. "That doesn't always happen in school districts, and you should be commended."
The committee also recognized the dedication of Brown and member Arnie Silva. Both Brown and Silva's terms are up at the end of the month, and they are not seeking re-election.
Each has served five years on the committee, and both have served on the contract negotiation team and the Finance Subcommittee.
"We will miss you both," Robbins said. "We all appreciate all the time you both have put in over these years."
The committee also approved keeping preschool tuition rates for the 2013-2014 school year the same as they are currently.
Those rates include:
* Full day, five days a week, $600 a month.
* Half day, five days a week, $350 a month.
* Half day, four days a week, $300 a month.
* Half day, three days a week, $240 a month.
* Half day, two days a week, $180 a month.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.