Schools chief Michael Morris gets strong performance review

  • Amherst School Superintendent Michael Morris GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2020 8:44:09 PM

AMHERST — Even with a significant disruption to education and school operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Michael Morris is receiving strong grades in his annual performance evaluation.

The Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional school committees Tuesday presented the summary evaluation based on the remarks and ratings by five members.

Amherst Regional School Committee Chairwoman Allison McDonald said Morris over the past year has maintained a good working relationship and collaboration with the committees.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that because of the work you led the district in really helped us and put us in a good position to weather and do well in our working through the crisis and the emergency,” McDonald said.

The evaluations “reflect strong support for the work of the Superintendent, his efforts towards meeting the established goals, and for the general operation and management of the district this past academic year,” according to the summary written by McDonald.

“The Committee thanks Dr. Morris for his continued dedication to our district, and for all his hard work supporting our students, educators and community.”

Morris said he looks forward to the committee establishing revised goals in the coming weeks.

“I feel very fortunate to be working with a committee that wants to work with the superintendent,” Morris said.

Of the five members who completed evaluations, Morris received an overall performance as proficient, meaning that it was “fully satisfactory - the rigorous expected level of performance,” while one member stated his overall performance was exemplary, meaning that he could serve as “a model of practice regionally or statewide.”

Morris met or exceeded all four standards, each of which relates to promoting the learning and growth of all students and the success of all staff, and made at least some or significant progress on all five goals. One member noted that he exceeded the goal for diversity in management and operations by continuing to increase the diversity of staff through recruitment and retention, and providing ongoing professional development on diversity and equity to all staff members and administrators.

Though the evaluation observes that Morris failed to reach all goals, it cites the pandemic as the cause for that, and credits his response.

As one member wrote, “He has consistently been ahead of the curve in planning for Fall 2020. During the initial phase of school committee planning he was constantly reviewing and sharing other states’ plans and useful information.”

Pelham representative Margaret Stancer said she appreciates the way Morris treats people who work for the schools and gives them opportunity for leadership roles.

Amherst representative Peter Demling said Morris has worked well with the committee and is always willing to improve.

“I look forward to continue working with him in the years to come,” Demling said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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