- Published on Monday, 12 November 2012 11:51
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The King George School Board gave high marks to Superintendent Rob Benson this week for his performance since he took over the division’s top position fewer than six months ago, on July 1.
The School Board itself deserves high marks for a full transparency in this process.
School Board Chairman Mike Rose released the entire evaluation instrument to the press indicating the School Board’s formal composite report card for Benson.
This is the first time the School Board has released details of any superintendent’s evaluation.
It is in keeping with the spirit of the state and federal trend to provide more openness and sunshine and provide accountability in public education.
Nonetheless, its release is not required.
Providing it to the public is a commendable action that serves to indicate the King George School Board’s firm steps toward its embrace of transparency.
At this week’s meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, Rose read out the overall comments from the school board’s Superintendent Evaluation Summary.
“Mr. Benson has acclimated well to his current position and is doing an excellent job of determining areas of strength and those in need of improvement. His calm and professional demeanor is an asset to KGCS. Anything short of ‘exceeds expectations’ reflects limited time in the position and insufficient time to see measurable results.”
“Strengths: Personable, communicative, professional demeanor and a willingness to listen to all stakeholders and options. Organized and willing to examine all aspects of a decision. Not afraid to recommend appropriate courses of action, but always mindful of community expectations and Board authority.”
The announcement came at the School Board’s final meeting of the calendar year, where earlier in the evening they had completed Benson’s formal evaluation during a closed session meeting. This week’s meeting was a continuation of one that took place last week at a closed session meeting on Dec. 4 for the same purpose.
School Boards are required by state law to annually evaluate their superintendents.
Benson had publicly told the School Board he wanted clear direction on their expectations for his performance. The School Board spent portions of several meetings during the fall selecting and then tweaking a new evaluation instrument to be used beginning this year to formally communicate marks for the superintendent. Refining the evaluation tool was a collaborative process between all members of the School Board and with Benson.
The new evaluation instrument is a five-page document which cites required areas to be evaluated, giving three examples of what is expected for each area and a space to score the superintendent and also provide optional comments. It also includes the use of rubric, which more clearly provides for specific performance criteria.
The last page provides space for comments from each member, including overall comments, strengths and areas of improvement. The evaluation form is to be filled out be each School Board member individually, with discussion of their scoring to take place behind closed doors.
The evaluation instrument of the School Board’s formal composite report card for Benson provides the following additional custom comments on each area on which he was judged by the members of the King George School Board.
PLANNING & ASSESSMENT – “Mr. Benson has begun an effective system for gathering data and using it to plan and assess needs based on observation and the Strategic Plan. Mr. Benson is already taking initiative in identifying areas that need to be updated in the new strategic plan. Mr. Benson also supports and values effective instruction and has plans to improve upon and enhance current programs.”
INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP – “Mr. Benson is changing the way our division approaches instruction. By analyzing test scores properly and proper placement of students in focus groups, the expectation is our overall student test scores will raise. This will also improve teacher morale and confidence, and the ability for our principals and staff to lead in a consistent manner.”
SAFETY & ORGANIZATIONAL MANAGEMENT FOR LEARNING – “Mr. Benson has designed and is beginning to implement processes to effectively monitor all resources to ensure efficiency, compliance and safety at the building levels and Division wide. The School Board has not had much interaction regarding developing school policies with Mr. Benson. Mr. Benson ensures he clearly understands the board and actively works to assist the board in formulating the best path forward.”
COMMUNICATIONS & COMMUNITY RELATIONS – “It is the opinion of the board this is one of the most important and yet previously the most problematic area. In the short time he has been here he has done a wonderful job of fostering a positive and open atmosphere. He has been very visible and a very active member of the community, speaking to various groups, attending school and community related functions, and joining committees.”
PROFESSIONALISM – “Mr. Benson has represented our division well to our community. He also has done an outstanding job of bringing a sense of accountability to our staff, principals and employees. Mr. Benson is collegial, collaborative and professional in all aspects we have observed.”
ROSE CLOSES OUT YEAR
Rose added off-the-cuff remarks, saying, “We are very pleased with the decision that we made. I believe I can say that with confidence and we’re glad to have you here. And the schools in the county are also glad to have you on board as well.”
The meeting this week was the final one for the calendar year and the last one of Rose’s 2012 tenure as chairman.
Rose made brief comments regarding the year they are completing, which started out on very uncertain footing with several looming challenges.
The School Board began January with a new interim superintendent, three new members and a budget shortfall.
Rose reminisced, saying, “We had to deal with problems in last year’s budget and problems with this year’s budget. But we made it through it and I think we all became better for it.”
He added to his fellow members, “I hope you guys are looking forward to next year. I think we’ll have a little more smoother sailing next year than this year - I hope. It’s been a wild ride and it’s been a pleasure to be your chairman this past year.”