Hill still proving his worth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

After 25 years as superintendent of Demopolis City Schools, it’s pretty apparent that Wesley Hill is doing something right.

However, to appease the state, every certified teacher and staff – including principals and superintendents – in the state must be evaluated every three years, and the time has come yet again for Hill to be put in the spotlight.

Dr. Neil P. Hyche, a retired superintendent and current evaluator, spoke to Board of Education members at Monday night’s meeting to explain the process of evaluation and answer any questions they had.

“I spent 39 years with the Tuscaloosa school system, 10 of that as superintendent,” Hyche said. “I have been everything from a bus driver to a superintendent, just to give you a little background. I’ve been where Wesley is now.”

Each board member had previously been provided with a thick manual that explains the evaluation process and why it is done, but the board was also required to participate in an orientation process, which is why Hyche was there.

“There are several steps in the evaluation process, but first I want to explain our mission – why we do this,” he said. “We do believe that every administrator in the state of Alabama can improve. No one is perfect.”

He said the evaluation was not necessarily a pass or fail test, rather a measure of Hill’s strengths and weaknesses.

“There are 13 knowledge/skill areas that he will be evaluated on,” Hyche told the board members. Areas included communication and problem solving skills, among others.

Hyche explained that each board member would be required to answer a questionnaire in his presence, as would all four principals in the system.

“There are 58 statements for you to score your superintendent on,” he said. “The questionnaire is anonymous, you do not sign it and when you’re finished you will have a plain brown envelope to seal it in.”

The information from the questionnaires are then synthesized by Hyche, who prepares a report based on the data that gives a mean score for each statement and an overall score.

“After that is a structured interview for Dr. Hill where he will be asked six very global questions,” Hyche said. “I will transcribe the answers and translate them into narrative form, which will then be given to you.”

The last part of the process, Hyche said, is evidentiary. Hill will be required to provide examples of his work proving his ability to perform the knowledge/skill areas he is being evaluated on.

When all this is done, the results of the data will be put in a folder with an explanation of the scoring system, Hyche said. He said the highest score possible is 52, based on a possible four points per knowledge/skill area.

Board member Braswell Braswell asked how long the process would take.

“If you look at the manual, it gives almost a full year to complete, but it won’t take that long,” Hyche said. “We can comfortably have this done by the end of the summer.”

The board was then charged with setting a date that Hyche could meet with individual members to complete the questionnaires. They agreed to meet early the day of the next board meeting, which is set for May 16.

In other business, the board:

N Accepted the retirement of Linda Clark, family and consumer science teacher at Demopolis High School, Joseph Ivory, custodian at Demopolis High School and Virginia Noland James, lunchroom supervisor at U.S. Jones School;

N Signed a proclamation declaring May 3 as National Teachers’ Day;

N Approved a worthless check policy charging $15 for any returned checks;

N Approved a motion allowing teachers at each school to adopt a social studies textbook from the state approved list of textbooks. After teachers have selected the book they wish to adopt, the lists will be brought before the board for approval;

N Approved the renewal of contract for Deborah Koon, physical therapist, for the next school year; and

N Approved the following field trips: Demopolis High School for 60 band students to attend the Six Flags Festival in Atlanta May 6-7; Demopolis High School for 35 music students to travel to Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa April 20; Demopolis Middle School for 45 sixth grade students to go to the Greene County Steam Plant April 15; and U.S. Jones All A students to travel to the Hoover Met in Birmingham April 20.