BELOIT — School District of Beloit Superintendent Tom Johnson has exceptional communication skills, understands curriculum development and advocates for diversity.
But school board members say Johnson needs to become more visible in the district and community, address conflicts, make tough decisions and develop relationships with community stakeholders.
Johnsons board-prepared evaluation was obtained Wednesday following a Wisconsin Public Records Law request by the Beloit Daily News.
The evaluation is a summary document both of Johnsons strengths and areas where board members identified improvement is expected. The document gave written directions identified as “expectations” on how Johnson is to move forward in each area of his job duties. The evaluation did not give any numeral scores for his performance.
In an interview Thursday morning, Board President Lisa Anderson-Levy said she thinks Johnson is doing fine and said the board identified areas for improvement. She declined to give any further comments as she said it was all included in the evaluation.
Anderson-Levy explained the policy chair presented different tools for evaluation and the board decided to use one which didnt use numbers. She said the tool was detailed enough to address all areas of performance in a clear way and is also easier for the public to understand.
The document said Johnson is well liked and respected by teachers, families and students. He has a collaborative working style and is a patient and tolerant educational leader. Areas identified for growth include Johnson being more visible, addressing his attendance and improving staff morale.
Under the category of expectations, it stated Johnson is to increase his visibility by attending more community and district events, and must submit a quarterly report identifying those engagements. He is also expected to develop and present a plan to improve accessibility by the staff to the board and administrative staff. This plan could include regular school visits, office hours and a mechanism for staff to provide feedback.
When it came to board interaction, the evaluation stated how Johnson is respectful in his interactions, assists and responds to board concerns and has a good understanding of policies and institutional history. However, areas for growth include attendance and engagement at meetings of board committees and the development of stronger working relationships with individual board members. It stated Johnson is expected to regularly attend board committee meetings and meet monthly with individual board members with 80 percent attendance.
The evaluation said Johnson maintains a focus on child-centered and achievement-oriented decision making regarding the deployment of staff resources. He promotes an educational climate which results in warmth and acceptance, pride in achievement and feelings of self-worth. Areas for growth include communicating his expectations to the entire district, holding staff accountable and making unpopular decisions if those they are in the best interest of the district. He is expected to develop mechanisms for communicating his expectations and commitment to improving classroom climates and teacher competence, overseeing and maintaining supervision and evaluation procedures for all employees and making and enforcing difficult decisions.
When it comes to fiscal leadership it said Johnson informs the board on fiscal matters and has procedures for the development and submission of the budget to the board. However, areas for growth include making decisions on the use of scarce resources involving district personnel. He is expected to prioritize and communicate to the board in advance regarding fiscal decisions which depart from established policy or involve substantial funds and develop a system that allows the tracking of deadlines for contracts.
When it comes to community relations the board said Johnson has interpersonal skills and abilities and is knowledgeable about key stakeholders, but needs to improve relationships with key stakeholders and community members. He is expected to develop a system for regular and ongoing communication with key stakeholders regarding the schools programs and long-term goals that include soliciting input and feedback and to use existing media outlets for communicating with citizens about the status of the district.
The Beloit Daily News submitted a request for a sit-down interview with Johnson on April 5 to discuss the state of the district and his return, but is still waiting for him to agree to a date to meet.
The document said the board is grateful for Johnson's contributions and it acknowledges the challenging conditions that existed when he was appointed superintendent and appreciates his dedication and commitment to the districts students, staff and faculty.
"We are confident that Dr. Johnson has the skills, knowledge, and abilities to meet the boards expectations and move the district forward," the evaluation stated.