Communication was a hot topic at a Board of Education called meeting Tuesday.
The board went over the superintendent evaluation instrument and decided to adopt the Georgia School Board Association’s (GSBA) general evaluation, with a few changes.
The board quickly went through the first six goals, but had more discussion on the final goal: "The superintendent will provide leadership to the BoE in board, staff and community relationships."
"We went through all these, and we breezed through six out of the seven," Joe Pacenka said. "We get to goals on communication and how we’re dealing with our staff and encouraging communication with them and our community, and that’s where we spend the most time. That’s what I see as a major weak point. I think we need to do everything we can to work on this goal. I agree we have systems in place, but my personal opinion is that they’re not working very well."
Richmond Hill resident Lynda Morse attended the meeting and was the only community member present. She noted the public doesn’t seem to realize the methods available to get information and provide input.
"The biggest misconception of the community is that they have no way of getting input to you," Morse said. "I would recommend you beef up your liaison with the public, so they have to stop complaining about how they don’t have a voice. I don’t think the public knows how accessible you really area. You need to reiterate – even if you already told them 73 times – what’s out there."
Mary Warnell listed a variety available avenues, including the annual student handbook, monthly PTSO meetings, Parent Connect, the Teacher and Parent Advisory Committees, the quarterly Good News publications, parent conferences, and others.
"We’ve got a lot going for us," Warnell said. "There are many opportunities for parents to get involved. I agree we need to work on our communication, but we do have many things in place already and the public needs to be interested in what we’re presenting to them. It’s a two way street."
Board Chairman Eddie Warren pointed out that the board members are "not bad communicators," but need to address areas of weakness and look into new and different approaches to improve communication across the gamut. He suggested open town hall meetings, where parents could come and openly ask questions to the board and have "information flowing both ways."
Jeff Morton added that he’d like to see the board do more media communication in terms of upcoming meetings and as soon as the board knows they’re going to have a called meeting, to let the public know.
"More people won’t show up, but at least they can’t say ‘I didn’t know about it until the last minute,’" he said.
The board adopted the GSBA "option one" to be used as a standard evaluation, available at www.gsba.com/services/services_super_evaluation.htm. Bryan County’s superintendent evaluation instrument for 2008-2009 will be aligned with the GSBA’s eight major goals and indicators, which they cut down to seven goals.
"I like most of the goals on there and I wouldn’t mind seeing us reword or change our district goals to align with these goals," Pacenka said. "These goals would go by the same standards as the current standards for the superintendent’s evaluation."
GSBA standards require whatever is on the superintendent’s evaluation to also be on the school district system improvements plan, Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer said. The board has been in the process of going through the system improvement plans from the past two years to create next year’s list. They have removed completed items, kept items still in the works and discussed new items. The 08-09 list is slated to be approved at the board’s regular meeting Thursday, 6 p.m., at Richmond Hill High School.
School District Goal 7
"The superintendent will provide leadership to the BoE in board, staff and community relationships."
Indicators – The superintendent will:
1. Demonstrate respect and cooperation and professional relationships with the BoE and individual board members, staff and community;
2. Recognize and protect the chain of command concept;
3. Work with the board to develop and implement a process that encourages (effective open communication within the school system) and seek the input of staff at all levels in decision making on significant issues;
4: Develop a process to (help the board) receive input from citizens on matters that relate to the school district and communicate with the community;
5: Assist the board on training to school councils; and
6. Implement the adopted board policies on media communications.
Note: Wording in parenthesis was added by the board.