School Board gives Plano ‘A+’ in annual review

Mercer Island School Board Superintendent Gary Plano. - File photo
Mercer Island School Board Superintendent Gary Plano.
— image credit: File photo

Mercer Island School District Superintendent Gary Plano earned exemplary marks in his annual review by the School Board. The School Board met privately to review Plano’s performance at its annual retreat last week.

All five Board members unanimously agreed that Plano not only met his obligations as superintendent under Washington state law, but he also “far exceeded our expectations as superintendent of the Mercer Island School District” during the period of July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

“We want to commend and thank you, on behalf of the district and our community, on an A+ job,” the School Board wrote in its letter to Plano.

The Board agreed to extend Plano’s term by one year for a total three-year contract.

The members specified a number of areas where Plano, in his first year on the job, had excelled as superintendent. The first area mentioned was his leadership and management of last year’s “challenging $2 million budget shortfall.” The choices which Plano made when deciding how to balance the tight budget were both prudent and effective, they said.

“You positioned our district well for the budget cuts you anticipated,” the letter read.

Other accomplishments included hiring a number of MISD administrators, including Lakeridge Principal Fred Rundle and Executive Director for Business Services and Human Resources Dean Mack, cultivating partnerships between the district and the city, the Mercer Island Education Association, PTAs and the Boys & Girls Club through the PEAK project, and keen oversight in last year’s adoption of a K-12 math curriculum.

On a personal level, Plano’s dedication to each individual school — its teachers, staff and students — was duly noted.

“We highly value your focus on and dedication to leadership growth and accountability and note your regular visits to each school, including time with the principals, and your commitment to providing your direct reports with regular performance feedback,” the letter read.

As far as Plano’s self-coined “Three Point Plan,” the School Board agreed that he has met each and every one of these goals: 1) Provide the necessary instructional and learning support to ensure that students think critically, innovate, invent and become prepared for life in the 21st century, 2) Ensure the financial stability of the district and 3) Take the necessary steps to renovate, rebuild and restore schools to state-of-the-art places of learning.

The superintendent has also been a key leader in the district’s new 2020 Vision, “Successfully preparing students for the cognitive, global and digital world,” as he has presented the idea to various district and community constituencies, while considering its objectives in his daily decisions.

On top of the School Board’s praise for Plano, the superintendent was honored with an invitation to join the National Superintendents Roundtable. The organization provides “a national voice for superintendents” by generating practical ideas to bring back to local districts, examining the “big picture” and learning with internationally known experts. The roundtable includes notable superintendents from across the country.

The School Board also nominated Plano for the 2010 National Superintendent of the Year Program, established by the American Association of School Administrators.

Plano has served as superintendent for Mercer Island schools since June 2008. Prior to that, he served as interim superintendent for most of the 2007-2008 school year. The School Board is required to review the superintendent’s performance annually and present a written public report.

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