School board takes a look in mirror in evaluation process

MARSHALL – According to the self-evaluation results that were announced at the work session meeting Monday afternoon, the Marshall Public School Board appears to be operating well above average and members seem to be proud of the job they’ve done the past year in office.

Like they’ve done the past few years, board members completed the self-evaluation survey, rating their performance in six focus areas. The process this year, however, was much more extensive since additional school personnel included input about the board’s abilities.

“This year, the survey included all the board members, bargaining units within the schools, including administration and staff, and city and county influences,” Superintendent Klint Willert said. “It’s a much broader perspective this year. Very few boards go through this process. It sets a model of expectations.”

In his presentation, Willert said the premise for the board evaluation is to align to the district’s core values, help determine strengths and opportunities for growth as a governing body, provide accountability and transparency in governance, focus on continuous improvement and effectiveness in governance and to align to the standards of governance prepared by the Minnesota School Board Association.

Using a 4-point rubric scale – with 4 exceeding expectations, 3 meeting criteria, 2 requiring improvement and 1 representing unsatisfactory – the board fared well, especially considering that 2.5 is the average score on the rubric scale. The six core areas included Vision (3.26), Structure (3.37), Accountability (3.25), Advocacy (3.01), Conduct and Ethics (3.23) and Attributes (3.17).

Willert reported the highest score was a 3.83, recorded in the area of Attributes. According to the comment alongside, the score was given for maintaining a “positive attitude that is cooperative and collaborative.”

“I’m just the messenger, but this is a very good turnout,” Willert said. “It’s a sign of good leadership.”

Newest board member Curt Kovash, who was participating in his first official meeting, asked Willert what he saw as priorities for the upcoming year. Willert said he felt that fostering and building relationships were near the top.

“I just don’t think we should rest on our laurels,” Willert said. “I think we should be open for new partnerships and collaborations if they present themselves.”

A board reorganization takes place every January to coincide with the start of newly-elected board members, nominations and elections for the four board offices remained the same as the previous year. Jeff Chapman will serve as the board chairman, Matt Coleman as the board vice-chairman, Bill Mulso as the board treasurer and Karen VanKeulen as board clerk.

The board also heard from Marshall kindergarten teacher Erica Hess about the iPad pilot she’s been conducting in her classroom this year. The technology-rich experience has had a number of positive outcomes, she said.

“Technology infuses our day,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”

Hess shared current math data gathered on a web-based program they’ve used called Dreambox Learning. The data showed that nearly one-half of Hess’ kindergarten students had completed their grade-level standards and were moving on to first-grade concepts in math.

“They play problem-solving math games on the iPads,” Hess said. “Dreambox allows me to analyze each click a student makes for math. The program covers all but two standard in math.”

One aspect that Hess finds encouraging is that students want to continue learning outside the school walls. While only a small portion of the day is spent using iPads, the experience is priceless, she said.

“They want to play it all day long,” she said. “It feeds into the concept of ‘learning anytime, anywhere.'”