Positive reviews on McCarthy's evaluation

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TOWN OF BELOIT - Turner School Board members praised superintendent Dennis McCarthy in his annual evaluation, calling the new tool for evaluation much more objective than what was previously used.

The new evaluation method is essentially a self-evaluation by the superintendent with input from some board members.

The new method had McCarthy draft goals for himself in August. In the middle of the year and again at the end of the year, he then evaluated how he did on addressing those goals.

School board members presented feedback on McCarthy's goals on Monday. His goals were broken down into three categories: public trust and communication, achievement and fiscal responsibility and high quality staff.

Before Monday's meeting, Board president John Turner appointed board member Kristie Petitt and vice president Norm Jacobs to serve on a three-person evaluation committee with himself to review McCarthy's self-evaluation and write their view on if he met his goals.

The committee stated they were in agreement with McCarthy's self-evaluation of him achieving most of his annual goals. The board felt as though McCarthy had increased board communication "well" through meetings and emails and handled personnel issues and parent concerns quickly.

"The last year has been a culmination of his growth in his 10 years as superintendent," Turner said. "He's grown into the role and is doing a good job."

The committee asked McCarthy to follow up with the learning targets from the 2017-2018 so they are further emphasized with staff.

The document states McCarthy also should "balance fiscal responsibility that we have come to appreciate over the years, with an equitable workplace for our staff showing they are appreciated."

The previous evaluation asked board members to score McCarthy in the categories of school board and superintendent relationship, academic achievement, fiscal responsibility, public trust and communication, staff and personnel and personal qualities.

The previous evaluation process was criticized by board members for being too subjective, such as asking questions about McCarthy's appearance. Board members Kim Ward and John Pelock said in an interview in March 2017 that they left large portions of last year's evaluation blank because they felt the questions were unfair and they did not believe they were equipped to answer them.

Pelock said this tool was better than the tool used in previous years, though right now the tool is more of a self-evaluation. This can be difficult, Pelock said, as people often are more critical of themselves than other people may be.

"It's better than what we had before, but it's a work in progress," Pelock said. "We're going to keep working on it to keep making it better."

Pelock said one change is establishing a mid-year progress report.

Petitt said the new evaluation tool is helping to build trust between the board and superintendent.

Board member Melissa Hughes approves of the evaluation tool and agrees McCarthy's evaluation should be positive.

"Quite frankly I think we're lucky to have him in the district," Hughes said.

Board member Kim Ward, Treasurer Dannie Shear and Jacobs couldn't be reached for comment by press time.

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