Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reza Namin Named New Superintendent

She [Westbrook School Committee Vice Chairwoman Colleen Hilton] said
Namin impressed the committee with his work at Mahar, where he cut the
district's dropout rate from 5 percent to less than 1 percent and boosted the
share of graduates who attend college to 78 percent from 62 percent over the
past four years. Mahar Regional School, located in Namin's four-town district,
was named one of the nation's "Best High Schools" in U.S. News and World
Report's 2009 rankings guide. The district, in north-central Massachusetts, also
aggressively controlled spending, Hilton said. It has held spending increases to
less than 2 percent for the past two years.
- John C.L. Morgan


Christian Mullins said...

This has all the makings of a good decision. I moved to Westbrook from another part of the nation 18 months ago, and I immediately noticed that the educational system was, well, average. Not bad, just average. (Full disclosure: I do not have any children of school age at this time)

Hopefully, Namin will be able to raise the bar in this district as well. Westbrook has the ability to emerge as an economic power in Maine, and an improving school system is one more incentive for businesses and, just as importantly, their employees, to live here.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Maine is one of the highest States nationally for high school graduation rates and percentage of students moving on to higher education. The thing I am concerned with is the excessively high pay he is receiving compared to the teachers that are doing the real work for the community. We have a problem with CEO's making far more than their employees, how is this different given the scale of things.

Christian Mullins said...

I have no reason to refute what Anonymous wrote regarding graduation rates, however, this is about the city of Westbrook, not the state of Maine.

I had trouble finding standardized test scores for multiple tests (ACT, SAT, NCLB), but I was finally able to track down No Child Left Behind, and the record shows Westbrook to be average in 3 of the four categories when compared to the rest of the state, and below average in the writing assessment.

The number that is the most important, % Meeting or Exceeding requirements of each level is low: Critical Reading - 47%, Mathematics - 40%, Writing - 37%, Sci & Tech - 43%.

No matter how those numbers are spun, it still means that less than half of Westbrook's HS students do not meet these requirements, and that is unacceptable under any circumstances. If Namin can bring these numbers up substantially, he will have earned whatever pay he's being given.

Westbrook Diarist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Westbrook Diarist said...

A comparison of the superintendents' salaries and benefits from eight Maine school districts is attached to the digital version of the PPH's story about Portland's new superintendent.

And seems to be a good Web site for delving into the profiles of various schools.


Don't get hung up on statistics though. As far as Maine dropout rate is concerned, it's much higher than what you can find on most sites - I can't remember where the letter is, but there is a research office that says Maine under-reports dropouts because it uses a different definition when to consider a student a dropout, that's one thing. Another thing is controlling spending may mean a lot of different things, so unless there is more detail, it doesn't make much sense, with this little information we are forced to read between the lines, and that's not a good basis to make a decision.
Putting the salary in perspective, the "big" person's increase in salary sometimes means a "little" person's entire yearly salary.

Liz said...

While it may be fair to compare one "big" person's salary against another "big" person's salary, I don't think it is appropriate nor fair to either party to compare a "big" person's salary to a "little" person's salary. Apples to oranges ...

Anonymous said...

How is it apples to oranges, when the statement is that the manager is making an unfair wage against the worker. The process stinks, and needs to be retooled from the top down. $125,000 is an unreasonable sum for anyone in a city position, and just cause portland pays that much doesn't mean Westbrook should. As Portland has wasted a ton on money in its school system, doesn't mean the surrounding communities should too.

Christian Mullins said...


I understand that you are a teacher, or an 'interested party' of a teacher, or someone that has been caught up in the frenzy of executive pay bashing, and I accept that. I also accept the notion that no matter what anyone says, you'll continue to beat the 'unfair' drum. While you're really beating a dead horse (the hire has been made), your concerns for the underpaid teacher, done anonymously (anonymity carries less weight in these debates), are seemingly well placed.

What I do not accept is anything less than the best for Westbrook's children. If the Westbrook district can rise and become the top school district in Maine through the direction of Reza Namin, families that select their home based on the quality of the school district will want to move here.

Property values will increase, local business will see an influx of new business (as well as new businesses), and without raising taxes, the city and the school district will have more money to spend. How that money is spent is up for debate, but as long as it is spent in the best interest of the children, I am content with their decisions.

This hire, and let me be clear on this, is in the best interest of Westbrook's children.

I have looked at Namin's qualifications (just Google his name) and his body of work is nothing short of impressive. He was not offered a raise; the Westbrook salary was increased to match his salary in Massachusetts, even though he's moving from an 800 student to a 2,000 student district. Westbrook hired Namin at a bargain, and we are extremely lucky to have him.

This is a 'big picture' hire, and an important one for Westbrook. I expect that nothing I've said here will convince you that the additional $30k/year is worth it, though I do expect that any reasonable and objective reader understands the benefit Namin can bring the city.

And, if the district doesn't improve, I'll be among the first to call for his termination.

Anonymous said...

$30,000 is the salary of one teacher. $30,000 could be a $5,000 pay raise for 6 teachers. $30,000 was the people stan sawyer laid off from the substitute teacher pool. So don't try to justify a wasteful hiring for the school. What he will end up doing is forcing the teachers to do more with less, while taking home a huge paycheck, and getting applauded for it. This is about people losing their jobs in the private sector, teachers being abused by the system, and Westbrook continuing to spend money it is slowly running out of.

Christian Mullins said...

My anonymous friend, this has evolved from a thoughtful point/counterpoint to an emotionally charged discussion, which does nothing to further the topic. It's clear that because we take a different philosophical viewpoint on this discussion we will be unable to find any common ground.

I have made my point, and you have made yours. I think this is a beneficial long term hire for the district's children and community; you think he is an overpriced hire and that the money is best spent on teacher salaries.

I am going to agree to disagree with you and leave it at that.

Lynn M said...

Chris M- I thought your comments were well thought out. If he is worth the money I agree with you and if he's not as you said he can be terminated but it is worth a try, people underestimate the importance of good leadership. Westbrook School system and entire school system in the United States needs to be overhauled. I'm glad Obama is making it a top priority if we are going to stay competitive in the global economy then we need to invest in our education.

I have a sophomore at Westbrook High and she is an honor roll student but is bored to death. She has some outstanding teachers whom she enjoys very much and other teachers that are negative and/or uninspiring. We need to make education more dynamic for the students and better suit their individual learning styles i.e. Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic.

Anonymous said...

Again, the teachers are the ones fostering the learning environment, not the superintendent. He does nothing except push paper. If you want more for your student, get a better Principal.

Ryan Mongeau said...

I had the unique opprotunity to take expanded learning courses from Dr. Namin through the virtual highschool program. He was very supportive and helpful and was quick to answer any question I had. Dr. Namin has many great qualities including his extreme intelligence and sincerity. I do not believe there is any other man that could do what this man can, he is truly a unique individual. Westbrook is extremely lucky to have him!