Long evaluation for a short contract? Washington County school board debates director evaluations

Jessica Fuller • Dec 17, 2018 at 10:38 PM

How does one measure the success of a leader? 

That was the question Washington County Board of Education members asked themselves at a called meeting Monday night to discuss evaluations for the system’s Director of Schools. 

The director is the sole employee of the board, and evaluations are a typical method of measuring how much of a bonus the director is awarded each year. But Chairman Keith Ervin wondered if the evaluations used the past couple of years are too long for the rest of Flanary’s contract. 

“If we give him a three-year contract or something like that, then we could have a lengthy evaluation,” he said. “But 19 months?”

Annette Buchanan said it can be challenging for a board member to give an accurate evaluation when board members aren’t present in the day-to-day life of a director, and aren’t sure what steps the director takes to work toward the system’s goals. 

Ervin added that he wasn’t sure how to connect the board’s goals to effectiveness of the director, especially with goals that require funding, he added, and are out of the director’s control. 

“We can’t hold (Flanary) accountable if, say, we want to put a device in everybody’s hands, and we can’t get that done, so is it his fault?” he asked. “How can it be his fault if it takes funding to get it done?” 

Evaluations in past years are filled with questions that board members can rate on an effectiveness score from 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Evaluations used in the past include categories like strategic planning, board relationship, staff and personnel relationships and student achievement. 

Philip McLain said that recent evaluations can be hard to score, and grades tend to be subjective to the judgment of individual board members. Mitch Meredith suggested that having specific goals can help make more objective goals by focusing on evaluation questions that hinge on numbers that are specific, relevant and attainable. 

McLain suggested to push the decision to next month, as the three new board members had never used the board’s evaluation decision before. The forms presented at Monday night’s meeting include the one that the board has used to score directors in recent years and are based on Tennessee School Board Association recommendations. 

The board can choose to reuse that evaluation, revise it or opt to rewrite the evaluation. At the end of the meeting, board members settled on Jan. 22 for a called meeting to discuss the issue further. 



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