Wrenshall begins process of evaluating superintendent
Wrenshal’s school board will evaluate its superintendent annually and base it off of goals chosen by the school board and from the district’s strategic plan.
The first step of a three part process in evaluating the district's superintendent began during the Wrenshall School Board meeting Monday, Nov. 15.
Creation of goals and standards was the board's first step in the evaluation process. Officials chose to adopt goals identified in their strategic plan, while Superintendent Kimberly Belcastro recommended adding policy reviews as one of the goals she and the board should focus on.
“I think we need to get in a regular regimen to be reviewing policies on a monthly basis,” she said.
The district's strategic plan, which was finalized this year, was the basis for the rest of the goals and standards chosen by the board.
The evaluation process was originally planned to begin during the board's committee of the whole meeting Nov. 10. However that meeting was canceled after board member Alice Kloepfer tested positive for the coronavirus. Kloepfer is being treated in an intensive care unit in the Twin Cities.
Board Chairperson Jack Eudy said while the process is called an evaluation of the superintendent, it is also an evaluation of the board.
“School board has to be on the same page as the superintendent and vice versa,” he said. “It is all going to be a learning process for us, because the school has never done this before.”
The timeline for the evaluation process is a little out of sync as the Minnesota School Board Association’s guidelines for the process suggest beginning the evaluation before the school year starts.
“Our timeline is a little messed up, but we can set the steps as we go,” Eudy said.
The next two steps of the process include a progress report and an end-of-year evaluation on the goals and objectives set during Monday's meeting.
Setting performance standards was one of the main reasons the board brought up the superintendent evaluation. The strategic plan will also be consistently referred to as a planning document for the process.
“We will focus on proving performance, not proving incompetence,” Eudy said.
The evaluation process is planned to become an annual occurrence, in order to make sure the district is meeting its own goals and moving forward.
Some questions board members asked Belcastro during the meeting included where the superintendent job description and district policies come from.
Much of the information and guidelines come from the Minnesota School Board Association, however, she said if board members want to tinker with the policies to tailor them for Wrenshall, they are able to.
Belcastro said this is a good process for the board to adapt as it will benefit the district as a whole.
“No matter who you have here down the road, you get used to this.” she said. “Have it be part of the regular job of the board and superintendent together.”
Each board member will complete an evaluation form on the superintendent to be compiled as soon as possible. During the board’s organizational meeting in January 2022, the board will decide on dates for the next two steps in the evaluation process.
With two board members absent, officials want to make sure they can catch up and have a chance to participate in the process.
“I would really like to see us working on it as soon as possible,” Eudy said. “We’ve got a working start."
Other board business
During the regular board meeting, the board also approved a cooperative agreement with Carlton for track and field and increased the number of times substance detection dogs will be coming to the district.
Belcastro said the cooperative agreement will benefit the students, however it isn’t always easy to find an agreement.
The district is working on another agreement with Proctor for a Nordic skiing cooperative after Cloquet was not interested, as they are already in an agreement with Carlton and Esko.
“You’d be surprised how many cooperative agreements there are between different districts and different programs,” she said. “I am all about just providing programs for students who want to participate in things.”
The district will continue to attempt to find programs for students who are interested in activities that are not currently offered at Wrenshall.
Increasing the number of visits for the substance detection dogs, from five to eight visits, comes after Belcastro discussed some behavioral concerns the district had during the first quarter with students coming back after a prolonged period out of school.
“(This will) set the tone and direction on what we accept on school property” Belcastro said. “I think we had a good first quarter but it was harder than people anticipated.”
The substance detection dogs did not come into the district as early as they normally do this year, and the district had some issues with students vaping.
"In my experience in doing this work for a lot of years, I have found it helpful when we have the drug dogs come in on a random basis over the course of a school year," Belcastro said.