Archived Story

Favorable evaluation for Law

Published 9:20am Monday, August 31, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

School has yet to officially start this year, but even so – one report card has already been turned in.

The Niles Community Schools Board of Education has issued its evaluation of superintendent Doug Law, even as they prepare to announce his replacement, later this year as he prepares for retirement.

“Highly effective” was the designation given to Law in several areas, according to board president Dana Daniels.

Areas included in the annual evaluation are relationship with board, management of public relations, staff personnel management, business and fiscal management, personal growth and self-improvement, and professional and personal qualities.

“The board is very pleased with superintendent Law’s performance and believe he is one of the best superintendents in the region,” Daniels said. “Under Doug’s leadership, Niles Schools has developed into an outstanding school district. The graduation rate increased from 80 percent to over 95 percent, scores on the state MEAP test have increased dramatically and are now generally above state average and rank among the highest in the area.

“He is well respected in the community,” Daniels continued.  “And over the past ten years he has done a superb job of keeping the district in solid financial shape.”
Financial shape, no doubt, has been a challenge for many a school district in the state, especially during recession.

Daniels said the Niles district has yet to hear on just how much state funding they’ll receive for the coming year – making budgeting a sort of guessing game.

“It is a guess,” he said.

According to Law, officials are being told to expect what could be a cut of $600 per student in funding. “That is a 2.5 million dollar cut for us,” he said.

Another challenge facing educators as the start of school approaches – rising concerns over the H1N1 virus.

“It is being handled and it is being taken care of,” said Daniels.

For his part, Law had just recently participated in a meeting with county superintendents and the Berrien County Health Department’s Rick Johannsen about the threat of the flu virus that emerged this year.

“We have developed a county wide approach to H1N1,” Law said.

Letters addressing the issue will be sent out to parents during the first week of school, outlining specialized guidelines.

“…We are encouraging hand washing, cover your mouth when you sneeze. We will be paying extra attention to areas that multiple students touch. Parents will be encouraged to keep students home if they have a fever of over 100. Students will be allowed to return to school when the fever has broken.”

Law said parents would also be called should it be determined that their student has a fever while in school and he said schools would not close should a case of H1N1 be reported, as the Center for Disease Control has apparently advised against doing just that.
“The decision to close the school will be made jointly with the Health Department,” said Law. “The vaccine will be ready around Oct. 15, but we could very well see our first cases before that happens.”

As teachers report for in-service days and prepare for the start of the year, the board prepares to announce Law’s successor.

“It is hard to think about this district without Doug Law as the superintendent,” Daniels said. “Doug will leave big shoes to fill when he retires next June.”

According to Daniels, the board set a target of March 2010 for naming a new superintendent.

The search will begin Sept. 8.

Law said he felt it a little early to reflect on his career as superintendent for the district and instead reiterated those sentiments he expressed in his resignation letter earlier this year.

“It has been my privilege and honor to work with a great group of dedicated board members and so many committed and talented teachers and administrators…
“Right now,” Law continued. “I am concentrating on getting the school year off to a good start.”

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