Greene County school board members hope to soon implement a tougher new way to evaluate the district superintendent.

Board mulls new superintendent evaluation process

By BRANDON HURLEY
b.hurley@beeherald.com

Greene County school board president Mark Peters proposed a new superintendent evaluation process Wednesday near the tail end of January’s meeting in Jefferson.

He requested the superintendent be evaluated at least three times throughout the year, which was met with heavy agreement from a majority of the board.

Restructuring of the annual process was brought to light during an Iowa School Board seminar several local board members attended. The state entity proposed school districts readdress superintendent evaluations. Peters was drawn to the idea and felt the local board should at least discuss changes.  

“Historically, we try to take what ISB suggests as things we should try. The main point I took home is it needs to be an ongoing process,” Peters said. “Right now, we have one in the spring. The main reason being is it’s adequate. We don’t give any expectations in the beginning.”

While no official change was made Wednesday to the process, Peters suggested a three-person committee to formulate a proposal and present it in February.

Fellow board member Steve Fisher was also at the Iowa School Board presentation, citing a conversation he had with Nancy Bradley, a board member in the Dubuque district. A 47-year education veteran, Bradley said they compile data and anecdotes through a widespread survey, which includes parents, community members and the local school board.

Fisher would like to see something implemented locally.

“I propose we get this done as soon as possible to get a baseline,” he said. “To help us understand how things are going with our leadership and create guidelines for the goals we have. We would also look at what (superintendent) Tim (Christensen) wants for goals for us, too.”

He added, “They (Dubuque) did say this was a very important function and responsibility of the board.”

Board member John McConnell agreed with an ongoing evaluation throughout a given year, as did Sam Harding.

“How do you evaluate someone one time a year?” McConnell asked.  

Steve Karber suggested a wrinkle for self-evaluation should be added as well.

“We probably need to evaluate ourselves,” he said. “The board should be evaluated and there should be a process for that.”

 In other school news, Greene County activities director Mitch Moore clarified that the Rams did not willingly withdraw from Tuesday’s wrestling meet in Guthrie Center, which would have resumed the season.

AC/GC was fearful of catching the herpes gladiatorum skin infection that plagued nearly 10 Greene County wrestlers and forced a shutdown of the program, as reported Jan. 11 in The Jefferson Herald.

“They did not want to wrestle us,” Moore said. Practice resumed Tuesday after a 12-day suspension.

“(AC/GC) did not want us to wrestle and have it spread,” he added. “Our entire wrestling program has been cleared by Dr. (James) Gerdes. He’s been on top of this thing.”

An initial round of community meetings with OPN Architects was held this past week in Jefferson and Grand Junction, which Karber sat in on.

Most of the discussion was centered on how much square footage would be needed in a new high school for each academic department. No money specifics were discussed, as it was strictly an information gathering session, he said.

Concerns with the pending bond issue in April were also discussed.

“The industry doesn’t move fast,” Karber said. “How do we state the bond language? Do we ask for so much, pending donations? Do we set a maximum? These initial meetings are trying to gather information.”

Four more community meetings are scheduled for Jan. 22 in Grand Junction at 10 a.m., and again at 1, 5 and 7 p.m., with more planned for Scranton and Rippey on Jan. 29.

The lack of concrete numbers is something OPN planned out, Harding said. They aren’t playing close to the vest just to frustrate residents.

“We had specific instructions from the architects to not come forward but to gather information from the community,” Harding said.

The biggest issue now, Superintendent Tim Christensen said, is deciding how much space is actually needed and where what goes where.

“Some of the challenges with building a new building is there’s a lot of requirements,” he said, explaining why the process hasn’t moved faster. “Zoning and codes. Restrooms, there are a lot of things to consider.”

McConnell chimed in as a longtime contractor, citing the intricacies that must be zeroed away.

“Hallway size, distance to a restroom,” he said. “There are a multitude of things to consider when building a public facility.”

As the meeting came to a close, a bid for the student construction house — built last spring — was approved by the board. An out-of-town couple put in an offer through Iowa Realty for $165,000, asking the school to pay $5,000 off the closing price.

The house was originally listed on the market in April for $170,000.

The next public school board question and answer session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Grand Junction Community Center. Fisher, Harding and Catherine Wilson will be on the panel.

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