Taking praise for his handling of several contentious issues in the last year, District 91 Superintendent Lou Cavallo received a favorable evaluation from the school board during a March 12 meeting.

Board members met in late February to discuss Cavallo’s performance and announced last week that he is an “above average” administrator. Board President Glenn Garlisch noted Cavallo has embraced the board’s commitment to capping classrooms at 20 students, and has tailored his initiatives to that end.

This is Cavallo’s second year with the Forest Park school district, and his second evaluation by the current board.

In 2008, Cavallo recommended that traditional neighborhood schools give way to grade-level centers so that smaller class sizes could be maintained and other instructional and financial efficiencies instituted. That notion rattled many parents, said Garlisch, and served as a critical test of the superintendent’s abilities.

Garlisch declined to release specific details of the evaluation, but said that in general, members were pleased with Cavallo’s efforts regarding the proposal.

Board member Joan White said that on a scale of zero to four, she gave the superintendent top marks for his handling of the proposal to reorganize the schools.

“Lou, as a leader and change-agent was a four for me, because of the learning centers,” White said.

The board approved the changes in late 2008, and the new structure will take hold with the start of the next school year.

Garlisch also credited the superintendent with taking a proactive stance on student residency investigations to cut down the number of transfers late in the year.

Board members ranked Cavallo on a five-point scale in 17 areas ranging from his ability to communicate and analyze problems, to his hiring practices and overall focus on district-wide goals.

The vice president of the school board, Sean Blaylock, agreed that Cavallo performed well during several watershed moments, but also pointed to decisions made outside of the spotlight that reflect favorably on the superintendent. A new approach to student discipline has been installed at the middle school, quality hires have been made at administrative levels and Cavallo has involved himself in regional discussions on homelessness, said Blaylock.