The Carson City School Board on May 9 discussed revising its superintendent’s contract and evaluation form just weeks before Superintendent Andrew Feuling’s contract expires June 30.
Feuling provided notice to board President Laurel Crossman that he would like to continue his contract with the district. Should the board approve it, renewal would be effective July 1.
Crossman reported May 9 she and Trustee Joe Cacioppo set to work with a subcommittee last fall to revise the board’s evaluation form.
Crossman said they condensed the evaluation form from its original eight categories to five. They also reviewed a document provided by Churchill County School District and incorporated relevant language, formulating a potential form for board members to consider, she said.
Trustee Molly Walt asked about the timing of the evaluation, which in recent years has been conducted in December, and its separation from the contract’s renewal in July since she considered evaluations tied to the school chief’s performance. She referred to former Superintendent Richard Stokes’ evaluation.
“Mr. Stokes had a multi-year contract, and we kept (his evaluation) in the fall,” Walt said. “We’re not going to keep it one year?”
When Stokes retired, the school board offered a one-year contract to John Goldhardt, superintendent of Manchester, New Hampshire, School District. Goldhardt declined the offer and the board offered a one-year contract to Feuling.
Crossman said December typically has been the ideal time for the evaluation since most of the district’s data is received in the fall and should be tied to the superintendent’s performance.
Trustee Mike Walker said he thought it was time to finetune the process overall, including coordinating and improving the evaluation process.
“Evaluation is truly about continuous improvement,” Walker said. “If December’s a great time to say we need to focus on this for the spring, it gives us time to put a plan in place before July. We don’t want to go back to these evaluations being punitive. We always need to alter our goals.”
Ryan Russell, the district’s attorney, told board members they are neither legally obligated to conduct another evaluation nor to renew his contract.
“In the contract itself … you can discuss the term when it comes up,” Russell said. “Whether you want it to be one year or 50 years as long as A.J. agrees. The evaluation criteria, we can talk about putting it in there very specifically. You can also ratify or confirm the evaluation criteria each year, so we can make the contract language a little more flexible for you.”
Trustees still expressed concerns about capturing the right evaluation form and its personal approach in its observation process. Trustee Lupe Ramirez noticed family engagement and its connection to the district’s strategic plan were missing as part of the criteria.
“I liked a couple of objectives that we have on that strategic plan so that it will help hold us accountable to make sure we are actually being proactive in improving parent engagement,” Ramirez said.
Trustee Joe Cacioppo said in the past he tried matching the pillars of the plan to objectives in the evaluation form, but it didn’t work, and Walker responded that perhaps the superintendent’s role is about overseeing community engagement while schools relate to families.
“In my mind, schools work on family engagement, the superintendent works on community engagement, which includes families, students, staff members and everybody else out there, and that’s when his role is making sure schools are working on family engagement,” Walker said. “But we want to make sure he’s truly in community engagement, he’s working with organizations and industry.”
Crossman said she and Cacioppo will continue revising the evaluation form and possibly bring back a draft in a new form for consideration.