Board chairman Charlie Rose said this was the first year the state is requiring evaluation.
Although it had not previously been required, the Bradley County Board of Education has evaluated Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel annually in the past.
To align the director’s evaluation with those already state mandated for teachers and principals, Rose and McDaniel discussed several options.
Rose said he had spoken with professional associations such as the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and looked at what other school systems were doing to meet state requirements.
“There was nothing out there that would meet our needs,” Rose said.
Based on this, Rose and McDaniel decided BCS should develop its own evaluation model and rubric. The rubric would help the board give a numerical score for McDaniel in specific performance areas.
BCS consultant (and former special services supervisor) Tena Stone was asked to develop the rubric to be used.
“It should be understood that in progress and needs to be used at least once to see if it an improvement over the instrument previously used by our system,” Rose said.
Rose said using the TSBA evaluation as they had in the past was still an option.
Rose said he appreciated McDaniel’s work on the project.
The rubric and evaluation questions focus on the same aspects of the director’s job as the aspects considered for teachers and principal. These areas include academics, how they handle change, decision making and ability to interpret data.
“I looked on the Internet to see what other states were doing for directors of schools and I could find nothing that had a rubric,” Stone said. “Its (director of schools) is a very complex position. So, it is hard to capture it. When you deal in rubrics, you try not to have 100 indicators. You try to limit your indicators and go in depth.”
Board member Chris Turner said he wanted to delay a decision because the board had only had a week to look at the evaluation tool. He suggested the board devote a work session to studying the tool and voting on it in May. Vice chair Vicki Beaty agreed. However, the remaining board members wanted the vote to proceed. The motion to accept the model was passed 6-2.
“This is just for one time we are going to evaluate after it’s all over. Did this work for us or not work for us? ” board member Troy Weathers said.
Turner said the work done on developing the model was thorough, but he felt he was being asked to make a rushed decision. Beaty agreed.
Changes to the board’s policy outlining who can speak to the board during its monthly meetings also discussed Thursday. This is outlined in Policy 1.404, Appeals to and Appearance Before the Board.
“Both of these elements of policy require prior action through the school system and I don’t feel allow the general public to address the board on the board’s business,” Turner said.
Turner said he would like the board to have a work session to further discuss changes that could be made to the policy.
He said he thought elements needed to be added to the policy to allow the public a broader context to address the board. Beaty said some school systems have a set time for public input.
“I do feel very strongly that we need to embrace the public and work with the public and the citizens, and if the have questions or concerns they should be permitted to express them,” Beaty said.
Board member Christy Critchfield said the board is accessible to the public and has had input in the past on specific issues.
“We had talked about in out retreats doing open forums to have the public speak to use at a round-table meeting. I do not think that a board meeting is the place to do that,” Critchfield said.
Critchfield expressed concerns that children and disciplinary actions by the school would be brought up if the policies were made too general.
Potential changes to the policy will be further discussed in a work session at a later date.
Also during Thursday’s meeting:
- A new reading curriculum to line up with Common Core standards was adopted by the board. The McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders series was adopted. The series has a traditional textbook and electronic resources. Weathers expressed concern that the school system’s Internet system would not be able to handle every elementary school accessing the materials at the same time. McDaniel said the system is updating its computer system that will solve some of the problem and seek to limit personal devices using the schools’ wireless. Turner said he would like the electronic version of the textbook to be available to students.
“I would love to see us be electronic. I long for the day when we don’t have to have [traditional paper] books [and can use electronic versions],” McDaniel said.
Supervisor for elementary education Sheena Newman said the cost for the electronic version and the paper textbook with added electronic components is about the same.
She said if a family has a compatible device the book could be downloaded to the student by the school.
- Bids were approved by the board to move forward with a paving project at Ocoee Middle School. The project would help with traffic flow in the afternoon and improve upon the current gravel lot.
- Bradley County Virtual School teachers estimate school enrollment will double next year, according to school Principal Zoe Renfro. She said the school has had a consistent enrollment of 40 throughout the school year. The innovation brought in 27 students who were not previously attending public school in Bradley County. Some students have left the virtual school for struggling to meet the required 20 hours a week of instruction, moving out of the county or other family issues. Renfro said she plans to ask for additional funding for two more part-time teachers and additional access to the Internet based curriculum used. The program needed 15 students to break even with last years budget. Each student who comes to the virtual school brings $4,000 of state funding.