By Jennifer Jimenez, Independent Newsmedia
School district leaders last week got feedback from an independent voice about the board’s self-evaluation efforts.
Thomas P. Jandirs of Concordia University in Chicago provided the feedback to the Dysart Unified School District Governing Board at the panel’s Jan. 30 meeting at the Nathaniel Dysart Education Center, 15802 N. Parkview Place.
Mr. Jandirs has worked with the board for seven years to guide their use of a self-evaluation tool to ensure a policy governance model is being followed.
“Conducting this part, which is the self-evaluation, is among the harder responsibilities and requires self-reflection and commentary, which is not always comfortable,” Mr. Jandirs explained. “But I will say there is some bad news to report, which is the district participation is down 45 percent for the past six months. Data and district observers are down a little bit. But board responsiveness has been phenomenal and the highest in what we have been doing.”
Mr. Jandris reviewed the board’s monitoring policies and implementation, noting suggested improvements to the assessment program.
“The board is showing evidence of reflecting on your own, but the observers reported there is room for growth,” Mr. Jandris explained. “It’s the hardest thing for boards to do to criticize itself and as it relates to talk and action during public session. We ask our teachers to be reflective and talk to each other about reflections and the board can do the same to hold itself accountable and to the same standard. We want to continue to try to bridge that gap.”
Board member participation has declined in the past three years, he said, encouraging the panelists to consciously engage with greater frequency.
There was a large disparity between what observers reported and what was reported in the the self-evaluations, especially in the area of instances of members advancing individual or private agendas, regarding which Mr. Jandris suggested there was possible dissonance within the board.
“Some top areas to focus on include board topics not staff topics, continued focus on board ends, improved discussions, reflection opportunities and continued focus on the board ends and means,” he said.
Mr. Jandris also reported a 45 percent drop in district participation for observers, noting some disparities may arise due to employing too small a sample for effective comparison.