Hudson School Committee discusses communication with community

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

HUDSON – The Hudson School Committee’s Superintendent Evaluation Subcommittee recently discussed what, if any, improvements could be made to district communication with parents.

School Committee member Steven Smith raised the issue at the subcommittee’s Oct. 7 meeting.

“That’s something we’ve gotten consistent feedback about,” Smith said. 

The topic has, indeed, come up before in public meetings and in other forums in town. Recently, parent of three Liz Jackson specifically expressed concerns about of a lack of communication surrounding the resignations of two high school Spanish teachers. 

“The most disturbing part of this for me is that to date there has been no communication regarding this. I have gotten no email, no notice, or anything from the school,” she said at a Sept. 21 School Committee meeting. 

She later added, “I’m really disappointed that the high school didn’t communicate proactively to us.”

Superintendent Marco Rodrigues addressed the issue of communication on Oct. 7. 

“It continues to be a work in progress,” Rodrigues said. 

Communication, however, was not one of Rodrigues’ four priorities for the 2021-22 school year, which he presented during that same Oct. 7 meeting.

“If we are getting feedback in that area, to not have something in that, we’re missing the opportunity to do something about that,” Smith said.

Rodrigues received a “Needs Improvement” score for communication on a professional evaluation two years ago. He has since been rated “Proficient”. 

At the Oct. 7 meeting, though, he said of the evaluation, “I was not in full agreement with those remarks, and the things that came about.”

He described the problem as “a moving target,” saying “the challenge for me about communication is it comes about not how often we communicate, or what we communicate, but when somebody or some group of people need to know something.”

“I can’t read people’s minds about what they want to know,” Rodrigues said. 

He also stated that the district “exhausted every possible opportunity to communicate” including emails and calls.

Smith suggested that the district could employ the services of a contractor with expertise in community messaging.

“In my private professional life, we’ve brought in companies that specialize in communication, framing things up for different audiences,” Smith said.

But Rodrigues advised against setting a goal which could not be met. 

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “I don’t see how I can create a goal that can be attainable if the moving target is on a daily basis.”

“The only way I would feel comfortable truly assessing a performance on something like that is by quantitative number of communications,” said School Committee member Adam Tracy, but he added, “I don’t know if that will ever capture the essence.”

“This is a difficult thing to evaluate someone on,” said School Committee member Ilan Levine.

“Everybody’s not going to be happy all the time; I think we all get that,” Smith said.