TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education heard a presentation from K-12 Business Consulting in regard to the district’s superintendent search during its meeting on Monday evening.
In December, the board approved hiring K-12 Business Consulting to aid the district in finding a new superintendent to replace Superintendent Dr. Gretta Kumpf. The cost is not to exceed $14,900, plus additional expenses to be reimbursed, which were estimated at $2,000.
On Monday, Kathy Lowery of K-12 Business Consulting presented on the stakeholder meetings they recently held with various groups in the school system and community at large, including the board members, teachers, administrators, students, parents, city officials, members of the clergy, and so on. Lowery said they comprised their meetings with those different focus groups, which included approximately 120 different respondents, into a 13-page document that will be available on the district’s website sometime this week.
“They were appreciative of the opportunity to have input in this process,” Lowery said.
The focus meetings went over the strengths of the district, its issues and weak points, and the characteristics those respondents felt were most important for a superintendent to have in this district. The various focus groups felt the strengths of the district included excellent academic achievement and rigor, the feeling this district is an “enviable place to be” due the district maintaining a “small town feel” while also providing students with “many opportunities,” the community support, the high-quality of staff, and the facilities feeling like a clean, safe environment.
In regard to the district’s issues, Lowery first mentioned the focus groups said there was a “perceived lack of trust” between the board, staff, and the community, which she said could be resolved by having a consensus on common goals. Other issues mentioned were the kindergarten through fifth grade facilities, student mental health, special education, job distributions, and misinformation and inaccuracies spreading on social media.
Lowery then went over the characteristics for the new superintendent the focus groups mentioned, and they said the new superintendent should be highly-visible, professional, accountable, student-centered, fiscally responsible, and so on; be a strong leader and a collaborator; have strong communication skills, both interpersonal and with the public; be someone who can work with the facilities project, such as having experience passing bonds or having experience with construction projects; be respectful toward staff, students, and the traditions of the district; have understanding of current laws and regulations; and be someone “who can work to unify the district.”
K-12 Business Consulting also provided the focus groups with characteristics to rank, and the focus groups said the most important traits for the new superintendent included having ability and willingness to deal fairly with others, having strong interpersonal communication skills, creating and implementing a vision for the district, and having personal involvement and interest in the district.
Lowery said this document K-12 Business Consulting has created from these meetings will be used for recruiting purposes, adding they have reached out to approximately 27 potential candidates in regard to the position already. Lowery said they told the potential candidates not to apply for the position until they have had a chance to look over this document and see if they are a right fit for the district.
Later during the meeting, the board voted on adopting the Ohio superintendent’s evaluation system provided by the state of Ohio Department of Education and to begin using it for the 2019-2020 school year.The board eventually approved this item, pending review and revision of applicable school policies.
During the discussion about these evaluation standards, there was disagreements about whether or not to implement this with the current superintendent, Kumpf, or wait until a new superintendent is hired. There was also a disagreement regarding whether approving these standards without first changing the board’s current policy manual — specifically code 1240 of the administration section of the policy manual — would make this item in conflict with the standard outlined in that section.
Board President Theresa Dunaway said implementing it now would allow the board to get used to this tool. Dunaway and the board’s vice president, Corine Doll, each made comments about these standards being in line with the current policies already without any changes needing to be made.
The board’s policy manual calls for a review of the superintendent “annually,” while the Ohio Department of Education’s evaluation guidelines for the superintendent calls for assessments more than once a year.
The board’s current policy manual also provides guidelines of what in regard to the superintendent needs assessed. It states the evaluation of the superintendent should include an assessment of progress toward educational goals, the working relationship between the board and the superintendent, and the board’s “effectiveness in providing direction to the superintendent,” while also stating those assessments should be based on “defined quality expectations” developed by the board and the board should “at the outset of each evaluation, determine the method by which the evaluation shall be conducted.”
Board member Joellen Heatherly expressed concerns about implementing these new standards with Kumpf. Heatherly said she is not against applying these state standards with the new superintendent to come. She also expressed concerns the board did not have enough discussion about these standards at the previous worksession held by the board.
“I think you told us we were going to do it, and we didn’t really have this discussion, and I would have liked to insert that comment that you can’t introduce a new framework in the middle of her evaulation because it may not align with what she’s working on,” Heatherly said.
Doll noted there was no work done prior to January anyway in regard to Kumpf’s evaluation.
“It’s already been way off track at this point because the prior board didn’t do anything with it,” Doll said.
Board member Simon Patry also made the comment that steps within the state’s evaluation guidelines have already “expired” due to those steps aligning with a sample timeline also provided in those guidelines. Dunaway said when Doll and she met with Kumpf, they acknowledged that and still agreed “it would still be better.”
Dunaway and Doll each then made comments about the state’s evaluation guidelines being better than what the board has done in the past in regard to evaluating the superintendent.
“In the four years that I’ve been on the board, we never review the superintendent until a month after the review is due,” Dunaway said. She added they were trying to stay on track because “the past boards have done nothing.”
Doll said this was “an opportunity to get us on the right track for a new incoming superintendent.”
“It’s much more technical than the format we used previously,” Heatherly said.
Dunaway said their previous format “was no format.” She said the board would meet a month after the superintendent’s review was due, then “fight for a month,” and then turn in “some monster novel that was a bunch of worthless verbiage because there was no data attached to it.” She added that was unfair to Kumpf and others.
Doll then said this way, community members can find the evaluation standards online.
“It’s very simple. It breaks it down into the standards of professionalism that ODE (Ohio Department of Education) has recognized for superintendents, and it’s going to keep it consistent moving forward,” Doll said.
During the voting, Patry first made the motion to approve the Ohio superintendent’s evaluation system upon review and revision of the policies as required and also moving to amend to delay its implementation until the next superintendent is employed by the district.
Heatherly seconded that motion, but the motion failed after board members Doll, Dunaway, and Anne Zakkour voted against it.
Patry then made the motion to approve the Ohio superintenden’s evaluation system, latest edition, condition upon review and revision of the policies to effectuate its implementation as required. Heatherly seconded that motion, which the board then unanimously approved.
The next worksession meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, at the board’s office at 90 S. Tippecanoe Drive, Tipp City. The next regular meeting of the board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at the board’s office.
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