October meeting of the Siuslaw School Board

Board discusses superintendent goals and evaluation, committee vacancies

Oct. 24, 2020 — Last Wednesday, the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors met in a 15-minute special work session before the 6:30 p.m. regular monthly meeting. The night’s agenda included consent items, a proclamation about American Education Week, coming up from Nov. 16 to 20, the opening of two positions on the district Budget Committee and a discussion about superintendent goals and evaluation.

Agenda Item 6.5 covered the Superintendent Evaluation Document, which the district is basing on the “Superintendent Evaluation Workbook” from Oregon School Board Association (OSBA). In it, Siuslaw Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak detailed his goals for the next three years:

  1. Improve community engagement opportunities, at all building levels, across the district.
  2. Continue and improve media outreach to highlight district improvements.
  3. Enroll in COSA-Concordia University of Chicago Ed.D. Educational Leadership program.

In the work session before the meeting, board members asked a couple questions, with Director Suzanne Mann-Heintz asking if equity for district students could be included in the goal, and Director Dennis King clarifying what had been discussed at two board meetings in September.

When it came time to discuss the agenda item, Board Chair Bob Sneddon gave information on the importance of goals for the superintendent, and how the school board evaluates those.

Although the Board Governance Handbook indicates that the evaluation process must be approved by the board September, the board voted to extend that to the Oct. 14 meeting.

“What we have before us is the document that we looked over and worked on the last two meetings, and we feel like we have it finalized,” Sneddon said.

The board will use the finalized document to evaluate Grzeskowiak’s performance annually, beginning in February.

According to the staff report, “The evaluation will be based on the administrative job description, any applicable standards of performance, board policy and progress in attaining any goals for the year established by the superintendent and/or the board.”

King moved that the board adopt Resolution 101420-6.5 2020-21, the Superintendent Evaluation Document, which was seconded by Director Paul Burns.

Following this, the directors continued their discussions on whether Grzeskowiak’s goals should differ than the board goals for the same period.

Director Dianna Pimlott also wanted to make sure the superintendent goals can be measured. Part of this is included in the OSBA workbook, as well as a targeted feedback survey that OSBA will be conducting with district staff.

“With goals, it’s good to have them clearly defined and then also say upfront how we’re going to measure the success of any goal,” Pimlott said. “I think the goal as stated is good ... but how are we going to meet this goal and measure success?”

Due to some sound interference, Sneddon repeated Pimlott’s statement, saying, “You felt the goals as stated were adequate, but you would like to see some sort of measurement of goals down the line?”

Despite the poor connection of the virtual feed, Pimlott agreed.

Burns said, “I think what Dianna is hitting towards to is, in those metrics that are defined underneath the goals, the action items under there, that’s where the opportunity is to make them a little more precise.”

Each director had the chance over the past weeks to give feedback to Grzeskowiak as he worked on his goals.

During the discussion, Mann-Heintz said, “I wondered if we might consider adding this goal to one of the goals: ‘The superintendent will develop strategies to address educational equity concerns, too, related to students challenged by homelessness, ethnic diversity and non-English speaking households.’”

She said that the board goals also include equity, but wanted to see it matched among Grzeskowiak’s goals.

“There have been lots of information going around about the incredible disadvantage to non-white families, homeless families or families that are in very sketchy situations because of COVID,” Mann-Heintz said. “I feel like there should be some goal directed to that at this time.”

Sneddon then directed a question to the superintendent, asking if that would be attainable.

Grzeskowiak said that he was using the framework provided by OSBA, which requires one to two goals to be board related and one goal to be personal. Rather than adding on a whole goal, he thought equity could be addressed within his goals as stated.

“What would work is that goal that says, ‘improved community engagement,’” Grzeskowiak said. “We could put a finer point on that as looking at equity, and increasing access at the building levels, and developing specific strategies within those. And I think that that works, because it’s part of community engagement.”

While some of the board members thought the goals could use more refining, Grzeskowiak stated, “These goals should match the board time framework, which is a three-year framework. So as we’re building these out, these are not anything that is going to be accomplished by February at the start of the evaluation cycle.”

At that point, Sneddon gave a recap of the discussion.

“We do have a motion on the floor to approve (the resolution) as presented tonight. We have had some conversation as to possibly finetuning the goals and input from Director Burns, that it is something that needs to be decided on. He laid out the timetable of getting done in September. It’s October now and we begin the valuation in February. In order to assess a fair evaluation, we need to have plenty of time to assess the performance and Mr. Grzeskowiak needs a proper amount of time to make headway towards those goals as well.”

He added, “Even though we accept his goals, we can give him direction and ask him to clarify and give us some clarifications on how he’s attaining goals.”

Ultimately, the Siuslaw School Board voted to approve the motion as presented, with changes to be expected from Grzeskowiak as to how he plans to attain his goals and work equity into his workplan.

In the rest of the meeting, the board approved the following policies in the consent agenda: GBN/JBA (JBA/GBN) – Sexual Harassment (second reading); GBN/JBA-AR 1 (JBA/GBN-AR 1) – Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure (Review only); GBN/JBA-AR 2 (JBA/GBN-AR 2) – Federal Law (Title IX) Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure (Review only); JBB - Educational Equity (second reading); and Division 22 – second reading.

In addition, Grzeskowiak declared two Budget Committee vacancies. Two positions, those held by Brittany Hornung and Megan Messmer, expired on June 30. Positions are for three-year terms, which will expire June 30, 2023.

“Well, hopefully we have somebody in place by February, when (Business Manager Kari Blake) starts on the next budget cycle. That way you have somebody available in March and April for training, and then in April to start with the building level meetings and the regular budget hearing cycle,” Grzeskowiak said.

The school board agreed to declare the vacancies open. For information about joining the Budget Committee, go to siuslaw.k12.or.us/o/Siuslaw%20School%20District/page/budget-committee-openings.

People can view the entire Oct. 14 Siuslaw School Board meeting by following “97J” on Youtube. For more information on the Siuslaw School District, visit siuslaw.k12.or.us.