Evaluation of Dukes finished

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The county school board on Monday finished discussing the schools director's evaluation at the second of two work sessions.

Director Roy Dukes left the meeting with several suggestions for improvement, and board members appeared united in their desire to see him succeed.

"Every goal you have is a goal of ours as your employer," summarized Barbara Kennedy.

Board Chairman Mike Keny started the meeting by noting there was a quorum even though Ann Tears and Donnie Moses were absent.

"We're here to go over Dukes' evaluation question by question," Keny said.

Board member Harvey Jones Jr. was the first to respond.

"I'm tired of this evaluation," Jones said. "We need to move on to something that will benefit the students."

Kennedy pointed out that the evaluation of a principal or a teacher wouldn't just be put away without discussion.

"The least we need to do is point him in the right direction so the scores are better next year," Kennedy said.

"This is what board members said they'd like to do," agreed Keny.

Board member Sam Smith agreed it was necessary to review the evaluation, but he made a suggestion that shortened the panel's work.

"I wouldn't mind skipping everything that scored three or better," Smith said.

Kennedy concurred.

"That would cut our work in half," Kennedy said.

Kristen Gold also agreed.

Discussion of low-scoring areas on Dukes' evaluation returned again and again to communication, both with the board as a whole and with individual members.

Kennedy said she noticed communication had improved since the evaluation was conducted, but stated, "I still don't have the financial information I asked for a week ago, and I need to study it and ask questions about it before next week's school board meeting."

Gold agreed Dukes was moving in the right direction, and so did Keny, who said he and Dukes "have a great dialogue," and concluded, "I'm encouraged."

Gold urged Dukes to notify board members of incidentes in the schools so they could be prepared for questions from members of the public.

"Not the specifics," Gold said. "Just let us know something has occurred."

Scores in the finance section of the evaluation were all below three, and Gold said, "It all goes back to timely and accurate information. We have to have it!"

"The on-going presence of state accounting personnel is a concern," Kennedy added. "We should be past that. Ms. Cook-Jones has been here since July. I don't feel she has a grasp of our finances."

"The state person visits all systems," Dukes explained. "The need here is decreasing. It's been a huge learning curve."

Gold asked if it was really possible for Cook-Jones to cover the jobs formerly done by two people, and Dukes responded that his new organizational chart added a person to help all three current finance people.

Finally, Kennedy urged Dukes to "aspire to having no more EEOC complaints," telling him to try and handle it before it gets to that point.

"We must get someone rather than pay Jackson $180 per hour," Kennedy said.

Dukes said he used to handle complaints, but now that he was director it would be a conflict of interest, and Kennedy encouraged him to train someone to do that job.

The meeting concluded with a summary of some of the recent achievements and good things going on in the schools, and everyone present agreed with Smith when he said, "You've got a lot of good things going on."