Havre Daily News
Havre board members learned from their annual anonymous self-evaluation form that they have several areas for improvement.
They also learned they don't all agree on how well the board conducts its business.
“It was obvious there is a consensus on needing improvement,” board member Todd Hanson said.
“We're probably our own worst critic,” he added.
Board members rated the board's performance by responding to 99 statements. Statements were given ratings from 1 to 4: 1 for “never,” 2 for “rarely,” 3 for “often” and 4 for “always.”
For instance, one statement, under the heading “Board/Community Relations” read:
“Refrains from committing to a position on an issue before all relevant facts are presented.” One board member picked “always,” four chose “often,” and three picked “rarely.”
Another, under the heading “Board Qualities,” said:
“Weighs all decisions in terms of what is best for the students of the school system.” Two members said “always,” three said “often” and three picked “rarely.”
Also under that category, a statement said the board “is independent and open-minded and respects the decisions of individual board members and administrators on various issues.” Four answered “rarely,” two picked “always,” and two selected “often.”
The statement with the lowest marks - four votes of “rarely” and three of “often” was: “The board exhibits mutual respect and cooperation at the board table.”
“I know before I got on the board, as Joe Public, there was what appeared to me to be arguments that became personal,” Hanson said, “I think we don't have that. We're professional and stick to issues.”
“Board members do not grandstand or use the public forum for personal or political purposes,” received one “always,” five “often” and two “rarely.”
“I don't see that too much; people jumping up and making long speaches,” board member Norm Proctor said.
One of the lower-scored statements was whether the board uses language understood by non-educators in the audience. Two members picked “rarely,” five chose “often” and one said “always.”
Superintendent Kirk Miller said the board tries not to speak in acronyms.
“Jargon is rampant,” Hanson said about the board meetings. “If you don't take the time to sift through the top layer, it might be difficult to get to the core.”
Another statement was: “Keeps abreast of timely instructional subjects by reading selected books and periodicals,” which received five marks for “often” and two for “rarely.” A board member commented on the evaluation, “Only a few members do outside reading, if more than one or two. I'm sure time and busy schedules determine this, but emphasizes the importance of the training conferences and workshops.”
The item on the evaluation about attending education workshops and conferences received five ratings of “often.”
On a statement about whether board members come to meetings well prepared, one board member commented on the evaluation: “Are we well prepared when we open our packet at the meeting? I have been guilty of this a few times too.”
The goal setting and planning and media relations catagories received the highest marks in board performance, although one board member commented “need improvement” to the statement: “Cooperates with various media for the dissemination of information about the school system.”
A section of the evaluation concerning the board's relations with the superindentent had mostly high markings. The highest scores - with four votes of “often” and four selections of “always” - were given to the statements: “Maintains a professional salary for the superintendent” and “Promptly communicates all expectations, compliments, concerns or criticisms of the school system to the superintendent with the expectation of feedback when appropriate.”
High composite ratings were given to the use of a consent agenda to expedite the meeting, the superintendent's ability to answer questions raised by the board.
Proctor said he considered the ratings “basically middle of the road.” He said he thinks the yearly assessment is good to see if the board is falling behind on any issues.
Hanson said the board will work to keep up on issues that got high ratings and make improvements to raise lower scores.
“(The board is) not just sitting there saying everything is fine,” he said.