Meeting for the first time in several months without a big crowd or a hot-button issue, the Alvord school board Monday spent most of its time examining the fine points of superintendent evaluation forms.
A needed process, but not exactly a crowd-pleaser.
In the end, they opted to make the process more about the district – re-examining its goals and direction – than the superintendent.
The form the board currently uses for its annual review of Superintendent Bill Branum’s performance was developed by trustees several years ago, based on district goals, and focused heavily on student performance.
Copies of that form, as well as other appraisal forms recommended by the Commissioner of Education, were passed out for review. The board spent the better part of half an hour discussing the formats and relative merits of each.
“The Commissioner is supposed to update this again by December of 2014,” Branum said. “If you’ll notice, it references AYP (Average Yearly Progress) and some other things that aren’t in the mix anymore.”
The school district’s current form references the old school rating system of Examplary/Recognized/Acceptable, which also is not used anymore.
“I think you’ll see quite a few similarities and some differences, certainly,” Branum said.
Board member Larry Nivens questioned the need for changing the form. “If we make the switch, how does it make us a better school?” he asked.
Czerniak said it’s simply a matter of bringing the district up to date.
Board member Kevin Wood said it had been “five or six years” since the form was revised.
“The instrument we were using prior to this was really generic and arbitrary,” he said. “We pulled it off another school’s website.”
Board member Charlie Matthews said it’s just a matter of finding the best tool.
“All this is, is a tool. You’re going to be able to see if there’s an area that’s at fault, whether it’s the superintendent or whatever,” he said.
Board member John Schedcik suggested combining the best parts of both forms, taking the portions they like from the Commissioner of Education’s suggested form and working them into the district’s form.
“The idea is trying to get an instrument that truly reflects what the board’s goals are,” he said.
After much further discussion, Wood moved to table the item.
“What if, instead of thinking of this as an appraisal instrument, we step back and go back over our goals, and let’s figure out what our vision is, where we want to go?” he said.
He said with several new board members, it’s a good time to back off and look at the big picture.
“If we’re going to take on the responsibility as trustees that our students and our citizens expect from us, let’s look at where we want the district to head,” he said. “Let’s look at our goals because this is based on our goals. Let’s become a team of eight and figure out where we want to go as a group.”
“Things have changed so much, I do think it’s time to reassess what we’ve got right here,” he said. “Let’s look at what the goals are and base our evaluation on the goals.”
He said the goals need to be clear. Branum said he would welcome that.
“The bottom line is, it’s not the instrument that’s critical – it’s more, me being able to know exactly what you guys are asking me to get done,” he said. “When I know that, it’ll get done. That’s why I think this is probably in need of repair.”
The item will be the subject of a workshop for the board’s July meeting – after members have done their homework and come up with their goals for the district.
Prior to that discussion, the board:
- reappointed Wood as board secretary, after Schedcik asked to step down due to time constraints and his work schedule;
- amended the budget to pay for the $189,543 in roofing work to be done at the high school;
- after a lengthy closed session, hired John Shelton of Franklin to be the new girls’ basketball coach.