Turner plans superintendent evaluation

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TOWN OF BELOIT - Turner School District Board of Education members will complete its superintendent evaluation in July after voting to alter the evaluation last year amid concerns about the old method of evaluation being too subjective.

During Monday night's board meeting, Board president John Turner elected member Kristie Petitt and vice president Norm Jacobs to serve on a three-person evaluation committee with himself. The committee will meet in closed session on Wednesday to write superintendent Dennis McCarthy's evaluation, as laid out in the board's policy approved last year.

The new evaluation for the superintendent is more goals-based. The board met in July 2017 to begin to develop goals for the superintendent and district. The board then formalized the goals in August and met in February to conduct a mid-year review of how McCarthy was progressing with his goals. The board collected self-reflection from the superintendent in June and will present the finalized evaluation to McCarthy in July. Overall goals for McCarthy include communication with the board, academic achievement, fiscal responsibility and developing a high quality staff. District administrators also are setting goals for their respective buildings.

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.

Officials believed this new model will cut down on the subjective nature of the evaluation while also opening the lines of communication between the board and the administration.

The board also discussed a potential referendum on Monday. The school board talked about the possibility of reducing the scope of one portion of the elementary school project. Bray Architects estimated the board could save around $2 million by having a one-station gym instead of a two-station gym. The elementary would instead make the cafeteria into a multipurpose room.

McCarthy said those funds could then be used for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) improvements or security upgrades, for example.

Stakeholders in the Turner School District set off on a tour of two Wisconsin school districts today, both of which recently passed referendums. District board members, educators, administrators and members of the Citizens' Facilities Study Committee toured the DeForest Area School District and the East Troy Community School District.

Voters in the School District of Beloit Turner narrowly shot down a $26.8 million referendum in April. After a recount of votes, the final tally was 920 yes and 923 no. The funds would have been used to build a new second-fifth grade elementary school and improve the middle/high school's STEM program. The referendum plan also would have closed Townview Elementary School and moved second graders from Powers Elementary to the new elementary school.

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