School Board Conducts Annual Evaluation of Itself and Director Mark Willoughby

January 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
School Board and Director Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education conducted an annual performance evaluation of the Director of Schools and a School Board self evaluation Monday night at the Board of Education Building.

The evaluations are performed annually in January in accordance with board policy and Director Mark Willoughby's contract. The board has used the same basic instruments for making the evaluations and itself for several years.

Willoughby's contract states that the evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board will review the Director's performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationship between the two parties.

During the workshop at 6:00 p.m. Monday night, the school board members evaluated Director Willoughby on his relationship with the board, community relationships, staff and personnel relationships, educational leadership, business and finance, and strategic planning skills. Board members were to make a check mark on the four page evaluation form in each of 52 areas, if they thought expectations had been met. Spaces were also provided on the form for board members to write comments.

Fourth district member Billy Miller said he found some of the questions difficult on which to render a judgment, because he doesn't have first hand knowledge on all matters such as Willoughby's relationships with staff and personnel.

Board members were said to have found that overall Willoughby met board expectations on most, if not all areas in the evaluation.

Willoughby's current contract with the board is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2014. He has served as Director of Schools since July 1st, 2006.

In the self evaluation during a special meeting Monday night at 7:00 p.m., each board member was asked to rate the board's performance on a scale from one to six in team building, decision making, governance, school improvement, community, planning, communications, motivation, influence, and policy. A score of "one" is the lowest and a score of "6" is the highest. They were to rate themselves on how much is being done now in each of 46 areas and how important those issues are to them.

Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore said he felt like the board should do more long range planning.

Second district member Charles Robinson said the board should commit itself to once again becoming a "Board of Distinction" with the state. "I think we've got a pretty good school board compared to some of the other ones that you run into throughout the state. I would like to set as a goal that this board become a "Board of Distinction". I think it sends a message to the community that we want to be better than just a regular board. I think the community would like to see that. But it takes a little effort among board members. I would like to see more of the board members attend workshops when it comes to learning about being a school board member," said Robinson.

The DeKalb County Board of Education first completed the necessary steps to become a "Board of Distinction" in 2008.

The award, presented by the Tennessee School Boards Association, recognizes outstanding performance by school boards as a whole.

Tennessee school boards that seek this designation must meet specified requirements in four key areas: planning, policy, promotion and board development. Board of Distinction status is for two years, after which time the board may reapply for continued status.

(Pictured above: School board members Charles Robinson, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Kenny Rhody, John David Foutch, Chairman Johnny Lattimore, Billy Miller, Doug Stephens, and Director Mark Willoughby)

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