Sullivan school board gives itself high marks in self-evaluation | Education | #Education

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s school board gave itself a collective pat on the back during its latest self-evaluation, which was a cumulative score of 4.7 out of a possible 5.

The six members of the Board of Education reviewed the summary of the self-evaluation presented by board attorney Pat Hull, who compiles the evaluations each year. He also gave the system a pat on the back for opening two new schools and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled to serve on this board,” said Mary Rouse, a former principal and central office administrator. “We’re all basically in the same place.”

She emphasized members are “not elected to run the school system” but to set policy and work for financial stability. The board recently voted to make retired Director Evelyn Rafalowski, who was formerly interim director and before that a consultant, the permanent director.

“At a 4.70, we’re a pretty dad gum strong board,” Rouse said. “As a board, we all want to do what is best for our kids.”

The lowest two scores (4) were under the topic of instruction: “I keep informed about student achievement,” and “I solicit information from the community pertaining to instructional program needs.”

Among the 46 items under headings of superintendent, community, meetings, staff, instructional, fiscal, and personal work, five got perfect 5.0 scores, and the rest at least a 4.0.

As West Ridge High School prepares to have its ribbon cutting on Nov. 11, Hull said looking back he’s amazed how well the school system dealt with COVID-19, opened Sullivan East Middle in January 2020 just before the pandemic hit and opened West Ridge in August of this year as the outbreak continued.

“I’ve been the board attorney through the majority of superintendents” on a wall in the back of the meeting room, said Hull, who started as board attorney with Paul Nelson.

Nelson served from 1971 to 1980, when superintendents were elected. The last elected superintendent and first appointed director later was John O’Dell.

Rafalowski, who retired in 2019 with more than 40 years of service, returned this year first as an interim and then a permanent director, replacing David Cox. He retired at the end of June after two years in Sullivan County.

The perfect board self-evaluation scores were:

• Under superintendent for “I am a positive influence for giving the superintendent sufficient research time and not forcing an on-the-spot decision.”

• Under community for “I work to do what is in the best interest of each and every student without distinction as to who they are or what their background may be.”

• Under meetings for “I exercise good listening skills during meetings,” and “I conduct myself in a businesslike manner, following accepted parliamentary procedures and rules.”

• Under instructional for “I support policies that enable the staff to develop the educational program required to meet the needs of the community.”

• Under personal work for “I keep the education and welfare of children as my primary concern,” “I represent the best interest of all citizens rather than special interest groups,” “I attend board meetings regularly,” “I refrain from asking that items be added to the agenda at the last minute,” “I do not individually or unilaterally make decisions or commitments on the board’s behalf,” “I am open and honest with board members, school staff and community members,” and “I share information and avoid ‘surprises’ whenever possible.”

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