Summit School District superintendent says proficient evaluation speaks for itself
After a split contract renewal vote, the school board will provide an update Monday
Following a split 3-3 Summit School District Board of Education vote last week on whether to renew Superintendent Marion Smith Jr.’s contract, the district leader said his proficient evaluation speaks for itself.
In the evaluation, which is available to the public, the board rated Smith across 11 categories for an average score of 3.32 out of 5, with 1 being not proficient and 5 being exemplary.
“I’m a very data-informed person, and so the data speaks for itself in the final evaluation,” Smith said Thursday. “… It’s a proficient evaluation. And the board makes the decision how they choose to move forward, and that’s the decision they made based on my proficient evaluation.”
The split vote April 15 was made by a six-person school board following the resignation in March of former board member Virginia “Gini” Bradley. The board will interview three candidates and vote on a new board member at its May 13 meeting, appointing the selection at the May 27 meeting. It’s unknown whether a new vote on the superintendent’s contract would take place after the new member is appointed.
Smith said the next steps in the process have not been communicated to him.
“There were no public comments at the meeting last Thursday, as well as no board discussion during that time,” Smith said. “So I found out at the same time that the public found out as to the vote as well as what the next steps are.”
Board president Kate Hudnut said Thursday that the board will provide an update on the status of the superintendent’s contract at Monday’s school board meeting, which is scheduled to be a special meeting and executive session regarding negotiations.
As for the board’s evaluation of Smith, the marks for eight core competencies include instructional leadership (3.4), vision and mission (3.0), operations (3.4), organization (3.6), personnel (2.9), finances (2.7), relationships (2.8) and communication and collaboration (3.0).
For Smith’s highest grade in this section, the organization category, the board wrote that Smith’s strengths included incorporating “feedback from internal stakeholders and best practices in education in the creation of the proposed district organization chart.” The board also said Smith provided “innovative professional development to district staff to support operational activities and equity goals.” And the board said Smith coordinated “a needed increase in professional learning days prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year.”
For Smith’s lowest grade in the section, the finances category, the board wrote that Smith’s areas of focus include increasing “a focus on building partnerships with local funders, fully engaging in financial presentations during board meetings and offering expert support on the recommendations being proposed.” The board also wrote an area of focus was to provide the board with “in-depth expertise on budget ramifications and the opportunity to discuss major financial factors impacting the district.”
Smith got his highest marks in the Superintendent Goals and Targets section of the evaluation, including return to learn response (4.5), equity culture of continuous improvement (4.2) and strategic plan organization (3.0).
For the return to learn goal, the board wrote that Smith’s strengths included implementing “transparent and frequent communication to parents and community regarding data-driven decisions.” The board also said Smith “responds to parent feedback and effectively augments remote learning plans to address needs articulated.” The board also said Smith “empowers direct reports to effectively address operational activities related to cleaning, transportation and student schedules” and he “supports district staff with the professional learning and resources needed to navigate difficult changes to the learning environment.”
For the strategic plan development goal, the board wrote that areas of focus for Smith are “to clearly define his involvement in the strategic planning process to ensure knowledge on equity systems is incorporated into the work” and to “provide more frequent updates to the board on the status and work of the strategic planning team.”
Smith’s current one-year contract with the district runs through the end of June.
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