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School board gives superintendent high marks in evaluation

By Staff | Dec 17, 2008

A semiannual evaluation of Superintendent James Browder was released this week, with members of the Lee County School Board rating him a 2.8 overall out of the top score of 3.
Each member of the school board fills out an evaluation form rating the superintendent between a 1 and 3 in a variety of different areas — leadership, information, strategic planning, customer focus, human resources and process management.
In receiving a 2.8, the school board is showing its approval of Browder’s performance from June 16 to Dec. 15. He has been with the school district for 67 months.
“I am delighted with that evaluation,” said Browder on Tuesday afternoon.
Four school board members rated Browder nearly perfect with the exception of Board Member Robert Chilmonik. Jeanne Dozier, Jane Kuckel and Steven Teuber gave the superintendent a 2.8 and Elinor Scricca gave him a 2.95.
They described Browder as “exceeding the goals set by the board,” yet Chilmonik gave him a 1.5 in his evaluation.
Chilmonik praised Browder for the 77.8 percent graduation rate that exceeded the state’s average, but said the superintendent “failed to grasp the seriousness of the current national and local financial situation.”
“We’ve known for over a year about the financial crisis. Now we are almost out of reserves, the state will cut us again and the only thing we can look at is to cut classroom programs,” said Chilmonik.
He said programs such as art, music, sports and vocational courses may be cut unless the district begins aggressively planning for the future.
Teuber stressed in his evaluation that Browder has been performing exceptionally.
“Dr. Browder has focused on strategic planning extensively over the past several years and the results are shown by our proactive approach to all the budget cuts,” he said in his evaluation. “He has worked very hard with his entire staff to assure that budget cuts do not hit our children and our teachers.”
The school board also voted recently to provide Browder with a $342,000 severance package if he were to leave the district. The package would save the district from having to pay him throughout the remainder of his contract if he left today, and is a sign that the board approves of his hard work.
The superintendent said at last week’s meeting that he plans on staying with the school district for another eight to 10 years.
Some criteria in the superintendent’s evaluation could have been marked as a “focus of improvement” if three or more board members identify it in their rating. Later, those focuses become part of the superintendent’s Personal Improvement Plan, yet none of the categories were identified three or more times.