This is not about this superintendent. This is about any superintendent. This is not about this school board. This is about any school board.
The Education Foundation does not take positions on political issues, nor particular candidates. We do not listen anecdotally to an individual or a particular group of people and state that singular perspective as a general statement of fact. Our organization works to support the success of the School Board members and superintendent—whoever is in the seat.
More than three years ago, our organization realized that we could not speak on behalf of a community if we had not done the work to listen to what they want. So, we listened.
We listened in living rooms, community rooms, businesses, and schools. We listened to parents, grandparents, people without school-age children, twenty-somethings, high school students, retirees, part-time and full-time residents. We listened in every geographic corner of Collier County, and we listened in English, Spanish and Creole. We listened to teachers, administrators, and those who serve in many roles within the schools.
A recurring message from participants in almost 60 Connect Now conversations was: “A lack of understanding about the role of the school board and turnover in leadership has created a sense of instability and concern within the community.” (Connect Now Community Statement, April 2009).
Since this process began over three years ago, thousands of people representing many perspectives in our community have become part of this work to get the schools we all want.
We heard the collective voice of our community through Connect Now and we have an obligation to stand for it. We have an obligation to remind the School Board and superintendent of their commitment to utilize the Connect Now Statement as a basis for the district strategic planning process.
The School Board and superintendent did something that is unique nationally which demonstrated great vision. This past fall they initiated a nine-month strategic planning process that included the community. It has resulted in a very good plan and we should be proud and excited about this opportunity to move our schools forward.
Now, our collective responsibility is to finish the job.
The current evaluation tool for the superintendent was devised before the strategic plan was written. As seen at last week’s evaluation workshop, this rubric was not utilized the same way by all board members, some did not complete the scoring, and data was not shared consistently with board members in advance.
Now is the time for this School Board to lay the groundwork for a strong evaluation tool that:
• Is aligned with the District Strategic Plan and has continuity over time
• Is devised in the context of national norms
• Is rooted in sound statistical and evaluation best practices
• Reflects a comprehensive view of the district
• Establishes a cycle of timing that is not disruptive to the beginning of a school year
Our community is chewing up and spitting out leaders because we do not have strong governance. Our current superintendent and School Board have particular strengths and weaknesses, as did those before them. They deserve respect and professional treatment in the context of a fair and valid evaluation process.
Many say that this cycle is a national trend. It is. But, this is Collier County, and we already know that we want more than status quo.
Collier County School District is an “A” school district for the second consecutive year, and in a very strong fiscal position. It is important to this community that we continue this progress toward ensuring a quality education for every student.
What you can do
This is a critical juncture and we ask our entire community to hold both the current School Board and superintendent accountable for finishing the job that was started with this extraordinary strategic planning process:
• Finalize the indicators of progress for the plan
• Work with the community to clarify those characteristics of highly effective leadership
• Develop a valid evaluation tool that will hold the superintendent accountable for implementing the strategic plan
The School Board meeting is this week — on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the MLK Administration Building, 5775 Osceola Tr. Please be there. If you cannot attend, please contact board members and the superintendent:
(Pat Carroll) Carrolpa@collier.k12.fl.us
(Kathleen Curatolo) Curatoka@collier.k12.fl.us
(Steve Donovan) Donovast@collier.k12.fl.us
(Julie Sprague) Spraguju@collier.k12.fl.us
(Roy Terry) Terryro@collier.k12.fl.us
(Dennis Thompson) Thompsd1@collier.k12.fl.us
Ask questions, particularly about these issues, of our candidates for School Board and make an informed vote. Early voting has begun and Election Day is Aug. 24.
Share this with at least one other person.
Make a point to become familiar with data about the school district. It recently published an annual report with information on graduation rates, testing data, etc. Visit www.CollierSchools.com.
Grover, a four-year member of the foundation board, is associate publisher of Naples Illustrated and a parent of two children who have gone through Collier County Public Schools.