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Washington County BOE moves toward rescinding self-evaluation policy

September 03, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Board of Education member Wayne Ridenour, left, spoke about the self-evaluation policy Tuesday afternoon at the board auditorium. At right is board member Donna Brightman.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

The Washington County Board of Education took a step Tuesday toward rescinding a policy that calls for the seven-member panel to evaluate itself once a year.

The school board voted 4-3 on the first reading to rescind the policy. A majority vote on a second, or final, reading on the change is needed for the policy to be formally rescinded.

Board President Justin Hartings, Vice President Paul Bailey, and board members Wayne Ridenour and Donna Brightman voted to rescind the annual self-evaluation policy.

Board members Melissa Williams, Karen Harshman and Jacqueline Fischer voted against rescinding it.

Williams brought up the policy during a July 23 meeting, asking that the board have a discussion about how it wanted to conduct the annual self-evaluation, which was due by Oct. 1.

At the board’s Aug. 6 meeting, on Ridenour’s motion, the board voted 5-2 to suspend the policy and send it to the board’s three-member Policy Committee for review and to possibly recommend whether to rescind or change the policy.

The Policy Committee voted 2-1 last week to recommend the self-evaluation policy be rescinded.

Several board members have said past retreats, at which the board essentially evaluates itself, have not benefited board relations.

Fischer, who chairs the Policy Committee, said last week that she voted to recommend that the policy be rescinded because she didn’t think a compromise could be reached at the committee level, and the issue would have to be hashed out among the full board.

On Tuesday, Fischer said she had done some research and discovered that nationwide most school boards conduct self-evaluations.

Fischer said she had reviewed some other self-evaluation policies, including that of the Montgomery County, Md., school board, and suggested a compromise in which the county school board change the frequency of its evaluation and use a different tool such as that county uses.

Williams thanked Fischer for her research, but said she didn’t think the local school board’s policy was bad.

Ridenour reiterated Tuesday that unlike teachers and other school system employees, the school board is elected — and elections provide the voting public a chance to evaluate board members.

Ridenour said he self-evaluates all the time.

Baily said that the board is embarking on a process to update its vision statement with public input, and that process will help the board reflect on its and the community’s views. Most of the questions in Montgomery County’s evaluation tool focus on its mission statement, he said.

Hartings said the absence of a self-evaluation policy does not prevent the board from evaluating itself at any time.

If anyone has any ideas on the issue, there is time to present them before the second reading on whether to rescind the policy, Hartings said. That vote could occur at the Oct. 1 board meeting, he said.

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