(This post originally appeared on the Even Better Eastern Carver County Schools Facebook page on June 27, 2019)
At Monday’s school board meeting, the board decided to give Superintendent Clint Christopher a positive performance review and a 2% bonus. In announcing the decision, Board Chair Tim Klein cited Christopher’s positive performance in the four areas of evaluation: “exceptional, personalized learning”, “safe, nurturing environment”, “prudent management of public resources”, and “culture of communication”.
This sends the wrong message after the year this district has gone through. I don’t think Superintendent Christopher is a bad person, but there have been too many problems this year to receive an unfailingly positive public performance review and a financial bonus. Let’s look at three of the evaluation areas:
Under “exceptional, personalized learning”, Klein cited the fact that Christopher and his staff made the difficult decision to move the district away from Empower. Unfortunately, this ignores the fact that Christopher is the one district employee most responsible for the failure of the Empower implementation in the first place. Before becoming superintendent in 2017, he spent three years as Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, which oversaw the rollout of Empower.
As for “safe, nurturing environment”, the spate of racist incidents in the district this year, combined with the slow and insufficient response of the district until pushed by parents over the period of months. At the April school board meeting Christopher himself said “Our students need to see a difference and feel a change in their daily lived experience. So do you. We can do better. We must.”
Regarding a “culture of communications”, most of the school year was marked by the district failing to live up to its promises to be open and transparent and then apologizing after being called on it. Most notable among these was the district’s failure to acknowledge the now-infamous “Negro Hill” image while promising transparency at a district equity meeting.
Significant effort has been expended to improve across all of these three areas has been made over the last couple of months. That said, it doesn’t excuse the district badly missing the mark for most of the year.
And it’s only fair for us as citizens to expect results — not effort — to be rewarded. Until we see results sustained for a longer period, the Board should be holding Christopher and his staff accountable for delivering.