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School board wrangles at workshop

By Staff | May 4, 2019

The School District of Lee County School Board gathered for a workshop Friday morning to discuss their evaluations of Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins in the wake of District 2 rep Melisa Giovannelli stating she would be calling for his job at the board’s May 7 meeting.

Members present, though, focused more on their differing opinions concerning the superintendent’s performance with little constructive criticism provided to help Adkins understand where his perceived shortcomings and strengths were — the reason the workshop was called.

The outcome of the session was the board agreeing that they need to find a way to better communicate and work together before any vote is to be made on Adkins’ future with the district.

“We need to find the sweet spot of communication going forward,” said School Board Chair and District 5 rep Gwynetta Gittens at the conclusion of the workshop.

“How do we get all on board?” District 1 rep Mary Fischer asked. “That’s the only way we can do the work of the school district. I’ve never seen it like this.”

The board noted it has not even set out its goals for the year yet.

Each of the seven members of the School Board recently evaluated Adkins, with opinions split. The superintendent was ranked in four different categories that included educational leadership, professional leadership, executive leadership, professional leadership and community leadership.

Board members were given a rubric to rank Adkins from “highly effective” to “unsatisfactory” based on a point-scale, with 4 being the top number of effectiveness.

Giovannelli, who was the only member of the board not present at the workshop, gave Adkins the lowest ranking, while Chris Patricca, District 3 rep and Vice Chair, gave Adkins the highest rank.

Patricca, Debbie Jordan and Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan gave Adkins “highly effective” marks. Fischer ranked him as “effective.” Gittens and Betsy Vaughn rated his performance as “needs improvement,” and Giovannelli as “unsatisfactory.”

Adkins’ average score was a 2.854, an “effective” grade based on the point system.

Members admitted to one another that they don’t work well together, and that they further need to discuss what they expect of Adkins.

Discussions broke out about diversity in the school district, hiring processes, transparency of the board and alleged actions of board members.

Patricca, while not naming any one person in particular, alluded to what she called, “Alarming behavior by members of the board.”

Adkins sat at the table as the members went back and forth with a moderator who was attempting to keep them on track and log what the group felt it could agree upon concerning what the strengths and opportunities were for Adkins.

It became clear quickly that more communication and discussion needed to take place among members, and that’s what they decided.

The regular School Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the school district Board Room at 2855 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj