– Jim Morse says he’s done as Portland’s superintendent of schools, but is he really?

We don’t question that he will leave Portland next summer after three years on the job. We do question whether he has really finished what he set out to do.

It’s true that Morse leaves the district in much better shape than it was when he arrived. The financial catastrophe that ended Mary Jo O’Connor’s term as superintendent, and the total loss of public confidence in the administration and School Committee was well-known.

But as Morse pointed out Thursday in his news conference, there were lesser known but just as serious problems with curriculum and coordination of programs. Morse exposed himself to criticism when he commissioned an independent study of the special education program, which led to budget cuts and leadership changes in the program.

Morse has reorganized the district’s central office, hiring highly qualified administrators to oversee the financial and educational operations, and treating Portland as a single unified district, not a series of fiefdoms.

We supported all of these decisions, but we are not convinced that the transformation is complete. We would have liked to see Morse stay and show more progress before turning over the reins.

Aggressive improvement programs are under way at Riverton and East End schools, which are failing according to the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Morse moved Portland High School Principal Mike Johnson at least in part as a response to the school’s persistently high dropout rate, in which nearly a third of freshmen fail to graduate on time. These changes may bear fruit someday, but so far they have not.

In time, we may look back on Morse’s tenure and say he deserves straight A’s for his transformation of a troubled school district. But for now, we will have to look at what has been accomplished in the last two years and say it only gets an incomplete.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.