Danville superintendent evaluation released; Stevens does not agree with results

Published 10:21 am Thursday, July 22, 2021

The annual evaluation summary for Danville School District Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald was released Monday which showed a mostly favorable evaluation of the job that she’s doing for the school system. However, one school board member did not agree with the final report.

“This is not a smooth process,” said Board Chair Steve Becker. “You have to take along the good and the challenging. We’re required, and we do, give a summary report of the evaluation. … This past year has been a year of many challenges for our district. And in this past year, it has many positive outcomes.”

Becker said McDonald was evaluated in “seven standards of performance agreed upon by the board and the superintendent.”

The ratings for each standard of performance are: Improvement required (progress toward meeting the standard is unacceptable … and needs to be addressed…); Developing (making progress toward meeting the standard); Accomplished (meets the standard); and Exemplary (exceeds the standard), according to the report.

Becker said he tallied the board members’ ratings that they had individually submitted recently following several executive sessions. “Dr. McDonald received a rating of ‘Accomplished’ in five standards — strategic leadership, instructional leadership, human resource leadership, managerial leadership; and influential leadership.”

She received the rating of ‘Developing’ in two standards — Collaborative leadership and Cultural leadership, Becker said.

“The Developing is hard. Sometimes things are an ongoing process, and sometimes it’s an ongoing learning experience,” he added.

“Dr. McDonald realizes that not all is perfect, and the board realized that, too.”

According to the report:

• Collaborative leadership is described as the superintendent “maintains a positive relationship with board members as they work together to establish community support for the district’s goals through effective two-way communications with students, staff, parents, business representatives, government leaders, community members, and the media.”

• Cultural leadership requires the superintendent to “understand the history, tradition and multicultural differences of the district. S/he empowers all stakeholders to assist in shaping district culture and climate as they support efforts to improve teaching and learning for all.”

Of the two items that McDonald received “Developing’ ratings, Becker said, “It’s not just something that she, solely, needs to worry about. That’s something this entire board needs to worry about, if we’re going to be a board of partners. I also have to take blame, and have taken the blame.”

Becker said, “We’re all here in this thing together. Do we always agree? No. Do we always disagree? No. And that’s a relationship.” He added that he feels strongly that “we have work to do under collaborative and cultural leadership. It isn’t just Dr. McDonald. The entire board needs to work on that, and we are.”

Becker said the board and McDonald would be working to develop goals and directives for the district for the upcoming school year.

“We look forward to working together to make our school district successful. And we have to always remember that stakeholders have an important role in the success of our district,” he said.

Board member Paige Stevens, who had announced her resignation a few minutes earlier which will take affect Aug. 4, said the tallies weren’t reflective of what she recalled from the last executive session. “… My recollection from the end of the last meeting where we discussed that, we had a different number of ‘Developing’ and a different number of ‘Accomplished’ … when we read that and shared around the table, that is not the split on things that I remember. Did something else happen in between that changed those ratings? … I don’t remember it that way and that wasn’t even close.”

Becker said, “After a little bit of time” following the meeting, “there were two board members that changed one of the ones that would have been ‘Developing’ to ‘Accomplished.’”

He added, “I had to take the final (ratings) when they turned in their things (evaluations.)

Becker, Stevens, and board member Glenn Ball were the only board members present for Monday’s meeting. Wade Stanfield was absent, and there is a vacancy left by Troy McCowan’s resignation earlier this month.

Becker asked Ball if he wanted to say anything about Stevens’ recollection and the ratings. He answered, “No comment.”

Becker stated again that he tallied the board members’ evaluations that were turned in.

Later, Becker explained that a vote was not required to determine McDonald’s ratings in each area following the last executive session when board members discussed her annual evaluation. And if a vote was called, it would have to have been done after executive session and during the open meeting.

With only three board members present at Monday’s meeting, the board’s attorney, Vince Pennington, said a majority vote would “suffice” to accept the summary report as presented.

Ball made the motion to accept, Becker seconded the motion, and they both voted to approve the summary report, which passed.

Stevens voted “No.”

In other business:

Following a short executive session, the board voted to support the Council for Better Education in Franklin Circuit Court “challenging the unconstitutionality of the private school tax credits provided in House Bill 563 “including payment of any appropriate dues or assessments (in the amount of 50 cents per pupil enrolled in the school district) related to the school district’s membership in CBE or its support of the referenced legal challenge.”

The total that the Danville School District will pay to CBE is $861.69, McDonald said. DISD is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit, McDonald said. But it does support the work of CBE and agreed to pay the assessment, like many other school districts will also agree to pay.

According to a CBE news release, the Council for Better Education Inc., the Frankfort Independent School District and Warren County School District, along with three individual taxpayers and voters, filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court in June. “The case challenges the constitutionality of HB 563, a school voucher program that – if it goes into effect as scheduled on June 28 – will funnel $125 million in state revenue to private schools.”

It states, “Spending money on voucher programs means denying students the opportunities they deserve in their neighborhood public schools because vouchers steal away scarce funding from public schools and give it to private schools that have no accountability or transparency. … Worse still, the law allows state revenue to flow to private schools that are not subject to any education standards and are free to discriminate against students for any reason, including race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. Public dollars should never be spent to create an education system that allows, encourages or perpetuates discrimination.”