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Evaluation rules for schools chief unchanged

May 05, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Evaluations of the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools will remain the same after a proposal to alter the process died Tuesday.

The Washington County Board of Education was split 3-3 on the revisions, with board member W. Edward Forrest absent, so the proposal failed. Board members Donna Brightman, William H. Staley and Justin M. Hartings were opposed to the changes.

The proposed changes would have eliminated a timeline outlining the steps of the evaluation of the superintendent.

The timeline currently calls for a workshop in February for the school board and the superintendent to develop criteria for the evaluation process and other specifics; the creation of measurable job targets in April; and the submission of documents and data from the superintendent to the board in June or July.

The timeline also calls for board members to complete their evaluation of the superintendent in July, and for board members to meet to discuss their evaluations and develop the board's written evaluation of the superintendent in August or September.

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The board preliminarily approved eliminating the timeline from the policy last month, but Tuesday's vote means the current language will remain.

Brightman, who offered an amendment Tuesday keeping the timeline, said the reasoning for removing that detail was not sound. She said there was a concern that student test scores would not be received in time to use them to evaluate the superintendent.

However, Brightman said that last year, scores were received by August, and the current schedule could be maintained by altering the timeline slightly but still keeping the benchmarks in place.

Brightman said other Maryland districts have a timeline in place for evaluating superintendents and all other Washington County Public Schools employees have established timelines for their performance evaluations.

"I'm not sure that one of the most important positions in this organization should have anything less," Brightman said.

Board President Wayne D. Ridenour said that for the past several years, board members have been unable to meet the deadlines established in the timeline.

"Though the (test score) data is supposed to get to us, it does not," he said. "So we're always extending and extending, and that's inefficient. If we can't meet a timeline, it makes little sense to have one."

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said that Adequate Yearly Progress results come in the fall, and the state has been releasing them later every year. Those results, she said, are an important part of her evaluation.

"If a timeline hasn't worked in the past, there ought to be a way to put together a process that's not as stringent ... where the dates aren't as fixed," Hartings said. "But the process should lay out expectations ... what the board of (education) is going to do (and) what the superintendent is going to do."

Board Member Paul W. Bailey said the board would be able to meet the deadlines established in the current policy if members are committed to it.

"Stop deferring (the evaluation) at times when it doesn't need to be deferred," he said.

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